Duty of care

Duty of Care requires us to ensure that all the people we work with are safe and that we abide by relevant legislation.  A duty of care exists where someone’s actions could reasonably be expected to affect other people. A duty of care is particularly acknowledged where there is a relationship of power and authority between two people e.g. between a project coordinator and a young peer supporter.

Duty of Care is the legal duty to take reasonable care so that others aren’t harmed and involves identifying risks and taking reasonable care in your response to these risks. Duty of care is reciprocal – the organisation has a duty of care to the clients and peer supporters and the peer supporter has a duty of care in the services that they provide for the organisation.

Balancing youth participation with duty of care to participants/clients and peer supporters requires a strong framework of reporting and key understanding of roles and responsibilities. Organisational mindsets are often very “adult focused”, and as such may create barriers for young people to take on positions of responsibility or be involved in decision making. Young people need to be included in governance processes, and feel confident in addressing duty of care issues but organisations must also recognise that young may lack the skills or information to identify key issues relating to duty of care without comprehensive training and support. Clear role descriptions and ensuring appropriate boundaries will assist to ensure that Duty of Care obligations are met.

Organisations should always ensure that they consult legal and legislative requirements when developing and maintaining their duty of care frameworks and consider working alone guidelines.

Some areas where ensuring duty of care is executed carefully within peer-based programs are:


The information outlined above uses the following websites as references:

  1. http://www.aicafmha.net.au/youth_participation/files/AIC37_Report_fact02.pdf
  2. http://www.yapa.org.au/youthwork/facts/dutyofcare.php
  3. http://www.huntervolunteercentre.org.au/index.php?section=hot_issues&page=duty_of_care
  4. http://www.aicafmha.net.au/youth_participation/files/AIC35_report.pdf