Important policies

Created: July 29, 2013 at 9:35 AM | Updated: August 25, 2023 | By Community Resource Kit

There are four important policies covered in this section:

Health and Safety   |  Complaints Volunteers Te Tiriti o Waitangi Treaty of Waitangi

Health and safety

All organisations must comply with the Health and Safety in Employment Act 2015. This Act promotes the prevention of harm to all people at work and to others who are in, or in the vicinity of, workplaces. It requires employers and others to maintain safe working environments and to implement sound practices.

The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 introduced a new concept - "Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking" (PCBU) - which captures employers, self-employed, principals to contracts, designers etc.

The responsibilities of a community group under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 2015 depend on whether or not the organisation has employees, even one part-time employee (the Act applies), or is entirely voluntary (entirely voluntary organisations are excluded from the Act).

The Act defines 'worker' as including both paid employees and voluntary workers who carry out work on the business on a regular or ongoing basis. This does not include volunteers participating in fund-raising activities; sports or recreation or education; or caring for another person in the volunteers home.

Organisations that have employees have a duty of care to ensure that they:

  • Provide and maintain:
    • a work environment that is without risk to health and safety
    • safe plant and structures
    • safe systems of work
    • adequate facilities for the welfare of workers at work
  • Safe use, handling and storage of plant, substances and structures
  • Provide information, training, instruction or supervision that is necessary to protect people from risks to health and safety arising from the work carried out
  • Monitor the health of workers and the conditions at the workplace to prevent illness or injury to workers arising from the work carried out.

A easy to read, quick reference guide to the Act can be found here:

You can also download an Introduction to the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 - special guide here:

WorkSafe also have information for volunteers here -    and information for officers of an organisation who are volunteers here -


MBIE Employment New Zealand -

Worksafe -

Harkness Henry lawyers, Matthew Peploe:  Health and Safety obligations for Clubs, Societies and Charitable Trusts -

Sample health and safety policy


The Community Centre and employed staff must take all practicable steps to ensure the safety of everyone on the premises.


  • To provide and maintain a safe working environment.
  • To ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, any hazards are corrected, repaired, removed or made inaccessible.


  1. The co-ordinator must perform monthly hazard checks in the building.
  2. Employees and Community Centre users are to notify the co-ordinator/committee immediately of any hazard so that action can be taken to eliminate or reduce the hazard.
  3. Any hazards not dealt with immediately are to be reported and discussed at the earliest monthly committee meeting and steps taken to eliminate, isolate or minimise the hazard.
  4. Emergency evacuation plans must be clearly displayed in the Community Centre, and the emergency and evacuation procedures followed.
Tip: Worksafe NZ also has forms and checklists available for download. Visit:

Of particular interest will be:


All community organisations need a complaints policy and procedures for their users. Ideally, complaints will be resolved between the parties without involving others. However, a written procedure for the resolution of complaints made against employees, or the organisation itself, is essential. 

The complaints policy and procedure should be displayed on the wall of your organisation and, if you have one, on your website. Written copies should also be made available to anyone who requests it. The policy should state that:

  • the client has a right to complain
  • any complaints will be taken seriously
  • both parties in the complaints procedure will be given a full and fair hearing
  • an independent mediator can be called in if needed
  • confidentiality of the complaint will be maintained. Only the parties involved and the designated committee/managers will be notified.

The procedure should outline, step-by-step:

  • what the complainant needs to do to make a complaint
  • what the organisation will do in response to the complaint and
  • what the independent mediator will do, if required.

Sample complaints policy and procedure


The ABC Community Centre recognises the importance of having a policy and set of procedures relating to any complaints that are made against it or the people working for it.


To have a fair policy and set of procedures for situations where complaints cannot be resolved between the parties themselves.


The grievance procedure will be exercised in a way that will ensure any person/organisation complaining has the opportunity to be heard and treated fairly, and that the complaint will remain confidential to the parties involved.

The procedures are to be worked through step by step. The procedures can be ended at the completion of any step, so long as both parties are satisfied. If not, continue to the next step. At any point of intervention, all parties have the right to have their supervisors and/or advocate and/or whānau/family support present.

Step 1 Approach the person/organisation directly about the problem in the first instance.
Step 2

If you are not satisfied, give a written description of the grievance to the chairperson of the ABC Community Centre's committee. Note: This written grievance is a private document and will be seen only by the committee, the independent mediator and the person/organisation the complaint is directed at. 

Result: The chairperson will notify the person/organisation making the complaint that the complaint has been received.

Step 3 The committee reads and discusses the complaint at their next meeting.

Step 4

The person/organisation that the complaint is about is notified of the complaint and given an opportunity to read the written complaint and respond to the committee.

If the committee is unable to resolve the complaint at this stage, it moves to Step 5.

Step 5

The committee brings in an independent mediator to hear from the person/organisation making the complaint and the person/organisation the complaint is against. The person/organisation making the complaint will be given two dates to choose from, and a meeting will take place within two weeks of the committee meeting.

If mediation is not successful, the complaint moves to Step 6.

Step 6 Three members of the committee, including the chairperson, meet with both parties together with an independent mediator as facilitator, within two weeks of the previous meeting. From this meeting the three committee members will make a final decision and direct any action to take place. The person/organisation making the complaint will be able to choose from two dates for the meeting.
Step 7 The three members will report the decision to the committee, the person/organisation making the complaint and the person/organisation complained against, within one week of the previous meeting.
Tip: For more guidelines on developing a complaints policy, visit Consumer Protection:


Volunteers play a major role in community groups 90 per cent of New Zealand not-for-profit organisations rely solely on volunteer labour and more than one million New Zealanders are involved in some form of voluntary work.

A volunteer policy

  • acknowledges the contribution volunteers make to the organisation
  • sets out procedures that guide the recruitment of volunteers
  • describes how volunteers are managed, and
  • defines the roles and responsibilities of volunteers.

Sample volunteer policy and procedures


The XYZ Group Trust recognises the valuable contribution to the service made by volunteers and actively encourages their participation, which:

  • enables volunteers to contribute to their community
  • provides volunteers an opportunity for work experience and the development of new skills
  • enhances the range of services available through the XYZ Group Trust
  • allows for wider community participation in the service.

Volunteers will not be used to replace paid workers in the service.


This policy aims to ensure that volunteers working at the XYZ Group Trust have work that is safe significant and satisfying, and that their contribution is appreciated.


  • all volunteers will be provided with a job description
  • all volunteers must sign a Volunteer Agreement before starting work.
  • volunteers are expected to conform to the XYZ Group Trust's Code of Ethics.

Volunteer Recruitment Process:

1) Requests for volunteers will be widely advertised in the region and amongst the cultural group/s of the consumers as required.
2) Interested volunteers should complete an Application for a Volunteer Position. (A copy should be included).
3) The XYZ Group Trust will arrange an interview with the volunteer which will cover the following areas:
  • name, address, telephone number
  • other languages
  • area(s) of interest
  • experience
  • current driver's licence, insurance and vehicle registration if volunteer driver
  • health record (in case of emergency)
  • times available
  • commitment
  • policy for reimbursement for expenses
  • names and contact details of two referees
  • police clearance
4) The XYZ Group Trust will inform the volunteer as soon as possible of the decision.
  • If the application is accepted, the volunteer should be given a copy of the Volunteer Worker's Agreement, the relevant job description and an induction package.
  • If the volunteer's application is rejected, they will be given the reasons why.
5) Sufficient time should be allowed for the volunteer to read the information and ask questions before signing the Agreement.
6) The co-ordinator will match the volunteer with appropriate consumer(s), where possible, taking into account the consumer's wishes and their language spoken, culture and interests.
Tip: Volunteering NZ has some useful resources and links to current volunteer policies and guidelines. Visit:

Te Tiriti o Waitangi Treaty of Waitangi

Recognising and actively promoting the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi The Treaty of Waitangi (the Treaty) is an important part of being an effective community organisation in New Zealand. Understand the contents and principles of the Treaty. Involve the Māori community and other experts at the start of the process.

Writing a Treaty policy - some focus questions:

  • what does the Treaty of Waitangi mean to the organisation?
  • why do we want a Treaty of Waitangi policy?
  • what will be achieved by having this policy?
  • who will benefit from it?
  • what is the purpose of our organisation?
  • what are the main issues on which we need to consult with Māori?
  • who are the iwi in our area?
  • how would we go about consulting with local iwi?
  • what is the local Māori kaupapa (needs, plans) for our organisation?
  • what services already exist for Māori in our area?
  • how can we work alongside these services to benefit our community?

Understanding the principles of the Treaty

What it means to your group

Kawanatanga - the First Article gives the Crown the principle of governance or the right to make laws and to govern in accordance with its constitutional process on the condition that appropriate priority is given to the interests of Māori, as set out in this Article.

Responsibility to consider the interests of Māori in the decision-making process.

Rangatiratanga - the Second Article guarantees iwi the principle of self-management or Māori control and enjoyment of those resources and taonga they wish to retain.

Responsibility to actively protect Māori rights to rangatiratanga in your actions and decisions.

The principle of equality (Article 3) - guarantees legal equality between Māori and all other New Zealand citizens, essentially ensuring equal access to resources and participation in systems and processes.

Responsibility to ensure Māori have equal access to your service and in your decision-making processes.


The principle of co-operation - the Treaty establishes New Zealand as a bicultural country and values cultural differences while encouraging the development of a common purpose and co-operation.

Responsibility to actively consult and ideally to work in partnership with Māori, to create shared understandings and work together for common goals.

The principle of redress - the Crown has accepted the responsibility of providing a process for the resolution of grievances arising from the Treaty through the Waitangi Tribunal and Māori Land Court.

Responsibility to provide opportunity for redress of past injustices through current actions, in particular, by ensuring no further injustice occurs.


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