Volunteer Handbook

Welcome passionate writers, devout readers, and everyone in-between! We are super excited to welcome you on board as part of the wonderful team of volunteers! This is your ‘how-to’ guide and information package for volunteering at the National Young Writers’ Festival (NYWF for short). 

Here you’ll find information about the various volunteer roles and their responsibilities in more depth, along with details about how volunteering at the festival works and what the next steps are. It’ll hopefully answer all your questions about being a NYWF volunteer. If there’s something missing, give us a shout at volunteers@youngwritersfestival.org.

Things to know:


Being a volunteer isn’t as scary as you may think. Once you’ve met all the other awesome volunteers, you’ll be having a ball. However, volunteering can be hard work and should be taken seriously. As a representative of NYWF, we expect our volunteers to behave according. That means be your awesome self, but do remember to act professionally. Translation: be polite and respectful, like you would in any workplace environment.

Working With Children’s Check

Rest assured that a valid NSW or interstate Working With Children’s Check is not required to be a volunteer at NYWF. If you have one though, we’d love to know. If you’d like to get one, you can do so here. (As a volunteer you can apply for one free of charge.) 

Pre-Festival Volunteer Checklist: 

The next steps to finalising your volunteering with us is to:

  • Complete the Volunteer Offer Acceptance Form (AKA Registration Form)
  • Complete the Volunteers Induction (our Volunteer Coordinator will be in touch with the details once you have registered) 

We also recommend:

  • Knowing the program.
  • Noting the venues you’ll be volunteering at.
  • Planning your transport and accommodation in advance since NYWF falls on the October long weekend. Transport and accommodation are at the responsibility of volunteers.

Volunteer Induction

The Volunteers Induction must be completed by every volunteer prior to the festival. The induction is a way to ensure that you’re good to go and understand your role within the festival. It’s also an opportunity to clear anything up that you may be confused about. 

We have two induction components to be completed on the same day:

  • NYWF Volunteers Induction
  • Newcastle Library Induction

The Volunteer Induction will be held the week of the festival: our Volunteer Coordinator will be in touch with the details once you have registered. 


Volunteering – Sickness & Health

Volunteer Policy

All NYWF Volunteers are protected under the Volunteer Policy, should something happen to you while on duty. It is compulsory for you to agree to this policy to work as a volunteer with us. The Policy can be found in the Registration Form.

What If Something Happens

If something happens that affects your availability to come and act as a volunteer:

  • Email the Volunteers Coordinator(s) at volunteers@youngwritersfestival.org 

If something happens while you’re volunteering:

  • For emergencies:
    Contact Emergency Services: 000
  • To contact festival staff, refer to your volunteer lanyard. 


Volunteering at the Festival


The Basics

Shift times assume that you’re at the venue, ready to start with the first event. Allow yourself plenty of time to arrive at HQ, sign in, and get to your venue before your shift commences. (Remember, factor in travel and/or walking time.) 

Volunteering can be surprisingly draining, and we all need a break sometimes. It is important to know that if you need a short break, talk to your Venue Manager. There is typically a 10-15 minute break between the session finishing and the next one starting. You also receive an hour-long lunch break between the morning and afternoon program sessions in the festival program. Of course, if you need a break anytime, let the Venue Manager or NYFW staff member know.

Division of the Shifts

Shifts will run in line with the festival program, approximately as follows:

  • 10:30am-2pm
  • 2pm-6pm
  • 6pm-9:30 
  • 9:30pm-late*

Some shift times will vary depending on the day. For example, a Sunday morning shift will start at 11am instead of 10am. 

*Evening shifts finish at various times due to the types of events volunteers are required at. For example, a volunteer may only be needed until 7pm if running the info table, while another volunteer may be needed until the final event starts. Evening events run until midnight, but volunteers will not be forced to stay. Simply let the Volunteers Coordinator know when you need to leave so they can make a note.

Before Your Shift

Before your shift you’ll need to meet the Volunteers Coordinator(s) at HQ to sign in. Here you can also pick up volunteer’s lanyard and pins. Remember to arrive with plenty of time before your shift starts. Depending on your venue, it could take up to 15 minutes to walk to, and they’ll be others signing in at the same time as you.

During The Shift

During your shift you complete the tasks associated with your role (see the ‘Roles’ section below). If you run into trouble, you can find a list of contacts on the back of your lanyard. For emergencies, contact emergency services. For other general issues or enquires see the Venue Manager and proceed from there.

End Of Shift

Return to HQ to sign out and return your lanyard.


Rostering: How It Works

Once your complete the Volunteer Offer Acceptance (Registration) Form, we’ll make a note of your preferences and/or availabilities, and set to work creating a roster. We aim to have this finalised and sent to you at least a week or more before the festival commences. In case there are any alterations, we’ll send you an *updated* roster just before the festival kicks off. (We promise to try and not shuffle anybody around unless we have to).

If something comes up and you can no longer volunteer, please email the Volunteers Coordinator(s) so that we can promptly update the roster.


In case you’ve forgotten the details of your nominated roles…

Venue Manager

Don’t be scared, but this is the management volunteer role! We need you to be Festival Staff when they’re not there — you’ll ensure the smooth running of events, liaising with core festival staff if issues arise, and generally manage the venue.

 Key duties:

  • Congrats! You get to manage the venue for us and keep it smooth sailing for us! It’s quite simple really, just:
    • Ensure that the venue is set up/packed up and ready for the next session.
    • Count the heads attending that session & make note for us at the beginning, middle, and end of each session. (This is very important for future events! You’ll be given a link prior to your shift)
    • Take surveys from the crowd as they’re leaving.
  • You’re also the acting festival staff for the venue.
    • You’ll be the first point of contact for any issues/questions. If there are any issues that you can’t solve, contact the Volunteers Coordinator(s) and we’ll sort it out from there. If you can’t reach them, see your lanyard for the next person to contact.

Marketing Musketeer

Our festival is broad and far reaching, but it does mean we can’t be everywhere at once. Do you have an interest in marketing? Why not help us out by taking pictures, doing participant surveys, and posting to social!

Key duties:

  • You’ll be responsible for getting photos, live-tweeting, and collecting surveys from the audience.
    • Use the hashtag #NYWF2019 and #TINA2019
      • Tag the attending artists and us @NYWF
    • Here’s our tip – know the events you’re attending: note the artist / topic / venue (this’ll help you when you need to post!)
    • Remember – be polite, not pushy. Surveys can be a pain, but they help the festival know numbers, which events are popular, and get help secure funding for future festivals!

Newsroom Reporter 

Want to flex your writing skills? Well this is for you: team up with your Marketing Manager by writing articles, reviews and opinion pieces in our Newsroom. 

Key duties:

  • You’ll be responsible for attending festival highlight events and writing articles about them for NYWF’s blog, or pitching them to outside media.
      • Attend the event, then report to the Newsroom
      • Follow the style guide provided by our Marketing Coordinator 

Happiness Helper

We want you to be the experts of our program and festival! If someone has a question, they ask you. If you don’t know, find out and help.

Key duties:

  • Know the program, and know our venues! Our festival expands quite a bit over the Newcastle CBD, so you need to be able to give directions and help patrons get to their next session promptly.
  • Be prepared for questions relating to the program, venues, food outlets, parking and yes, bathrooms. If it’s something super serious that you don’t know but think you should (ie. It relates to the festival) then contact the Volunteers Coordinator(s) and they’ll try to find out the answer for you.
  • Be generally helpful – if an artist wants some water, get some. If the event needs a mic to be passed around the room, do it.


Venues/Events Guide: What You Do

NYWF has an array of events set up across the four days of the festival, from panels and workshops, to a ball and late night readings. In some instances, your role as a volunteer may be slightly affected depending on the venue/event type, however your core role and responsibilities will remain the same. Below is a little guide to demonstrate what needs to be done depending on the event type:


  • During sessions:
      • Take the headcount once people stop coming in (approx. 15 minutes after the session has started anybody attending the event should be there).
      • Some sessions may vary with requirements (eg. passing around a clipboard to collect emails for follow-up surveys).
  • After/In-between sessions:
    • Room tidy-up between sessions
    • Help staff/volunteers prep the venue for next session (eg. water refill), if required


  • During the session:
      • Help/assist the Artist/Co-Director running the workshop – participate if you’d like.
      • Take headcounts.
  • After/In-between sessions:
    • Tidy the venue in-between sessions and prep for next workshop
    • Pack up and tidy the venue at the end of the day – leave the venue as it was found.


  • Setting up the venue may be required
  • All volunteers are welcomed to attend!


A reminder

Transport and accomodation are at the responsibility of the volunteer.