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CHCINF2A

Maintain the Organisations Information System


Learning Guide for Volunteers

National Volunteer Skills Centre is a project run by Volunteering Australia and is funded by Department of Family and Community Services

Commonwealth of Australia 2004 Published by Volunteering Australia First published November, 2004 All rights reserved. This work is copyright, but permission is given to trainers and facilitators or volunteers to make copies by photocopying or other duplicating processes for use within the volunteer involving organisation or in a workplace where the training is being conducted for volunteers. This permission does not extend to the making of copies for use outside the immediate training environment for which they are made, nor the making of copies for hire or resale to third parties. For permission outside these guidelines, apply in writing to Volunteering Australia Inc. These learning materials are published by Volunteering Australia for the National Volunteer Skills Centre and funded by the Australian Government Department of Family and Community Services. Enquiries should be directed to: National Volunteer Skills Centre Volunteering Australia Inc Suite 2, Level 3 11 Queens Road Melbourne Vic 3004 T: 03 9820 4100 F: 03 9820 1206 E: nvsc@volunteeringaustralia.org W: www.nvsc.org.au ARBN 062 806 464

Institute of TAFE Tasmania, development, desktop publishing and layout Amanda Brain, author Geoff Cotton, ANTA Noting Consultant ISBN 1 920848 26 6

This publication is supplied with the understanding that the authors, designers and editors are not responsible for the results of any actions taken on the basis of information in this work, nor for any errors or omissions; and the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, engineering or other professional services. The publisher, authors and designers disclaim all and any liability to any person, whether a purchaser of this publication or not, in respect of anything and of the consequences of anything done or omitted to be done by any such person in reliance, whether whole or partial, upon the whole or any part of the contents of this publication.

Table of Contents
Introduction ................................................................................................... 1
Becoming a self-directed learner.................................................................................. 2 Additional support ................................................................................................... 3 What are you hoping to achieve? ................................................................................. 4 Gaining formal qualifications for your volunteer work ...................................... 4 About this competency.................................................................................................. 6 Element 1 ................................................................................................................... 6 Element 2 ................................................................................................................... 6 Element 3 ................................................................................................................... 6 How do I get a Statement of Attainment for my volunteer work? .................... 8 Creating a Work Record Portfolio for RCC ............................................................... 9 Hints for presenting your portfolio........................................................................ 9 Finding a coach or support person ............................................................................ 10 Icons used in this book ......................................................................................... 11 Tips for trainers or support people............................................................................ 12

Section 1: Maintain Accurate Records


Introduction .................................................................................................................. 15 Information systems .................................................................................................... 15 What is your current level of competence? .............................................................. 16 Self assessment.............................................................................................................. 17 Sources of information ................................................................................................ 18 Internal information sources ................................................................................ 18 External information sources................................................................................ 18 Provide information..................................................................................................... 20 Identify needs................................................................................................................ 25 Define the request................................................................................................... 26 Assess its relevance ................................................................................................ 26 Identify any gaps .................................................................................................... 26 Checklist................................................................................................................... 27 Match request ......................................................................................................... 28 Recording and reporting ............................................................................................. 31 Types of records............................................................................................................ 33 Breaches in record keeping ......................................................................................... 35 Maintain accurate records........................................................................................... 38 Common faults ....................................................................................................... 38 Summary ....................................................................................................................... 47

Section 2: Handle Correspondence


Self assessment.............................................................................................................. 50

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Incoming information ................................................................................................ 51 Outgoing correspondence .......................................................................................... 56 Summary ....................................................................................................................... 61

Section 3: Provide Information


Self assessment.............................................................................................................. 64 File and index information ......................................................................................... 65 Storing and retrieving information from filing systems ......................................... 66 Collecting data ............................................................................................................. 69 Present written information neatly ..................................................................... 71 Provide information..................................................................................................... 73 Summary........................................................................................................................ 73

Resources...................................................................................................... 75
Acknowledgements ...................................................................................................... 75

Portfolio Record .......................................................................................... 77


Types of information ............................................................................................. 79 Clients and stakeholders ........................................................................................ 80 Records..................................................................................................................... 81 Information management .................................................................................... 81 Present information ............................................................................................... 82 Incoming information ........................................................................................... 83 Checklist................................................................................................................... 84 Protocols .................................................................................................................. 84 Handle correspondence ......................................................................................... 85 Filing......................................................................................................................... 86 Present data ............................................................................................................ 86 Supervisor details.................................................................................................... 88 Third party report ........................................................................................................ 89

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Volunteering Australia Inc CHCINF2A Maintain the Organisations Information System

Introduction
If you are using this Learning Guide it is likely that your volunteer role involves collecting, storing and providing accurate and current information to people within or outside the volunteer involving organisation you are working with. In any single day most organisations have to manage significant amounts of information. If the information is to be relevant and useful to staff, volunteers and clients it needs to be maintained in a way that makes it accessible, up to date and accurate. A well-managed organisation will have established systems for managing the information that comes in and goes out of their organisation. All workers have an important responsibility to fulfil their role in maintaining the information system so that it continues to work effectively for everyone. This Learning Guide is designed to assist you in developing the skills and knowledge needed to collect, store and provide accurate and current information to clients of your volunteer involving organisation. This Learning Guide is divided into four parts.

This Introduction includes details of the competency and discusses what you may wish to achieve with this learning. It describes self-directed learning. It also has some resources that may be useful to your coach or mentor.

Introduction

Volunteering Australia Inc CHCINF2A Maintain the Organisations Information System

Section 1, Section 2 and Section 3 are the learning materials. They contain a self assessment exercise that you can use to plan your learning and select topics you wish to focus on. The learning activities are varied so you can select those you feel are best suited to your learning style and work situation. You may choose to do one or all the activities. You can choose to do them on your own or as part of a group. You can start and finish working with the guide wherever you wish. Resources contains further references and other materials relevant to the topics covered. Whether and how you use these resources is up to you. You may choose to use materials provided by your organisation and/or those provided here. Work Record Portfolio includes forms for you to complete as evidence to gain formal recognition for your work and learning.

Becoming a self-directed learner


Learning happens most easily at the point when you actually need to know or learn how to do something for a reason. This Learning Guide will lead you through tasks for this competency. This guide is not a set of instructions but more like an action guide to support you in your own learning. It is up to you to take the initiative by being an active, self-directed learner. One way of explaining the process used by active learners is shown in the drawing below. The cycle can be started at any point.

Introduction

Volunteering Australia Inc CHCINF2A Maintain the Organisations Information System

Learning actions
Everything you do is a potential learning action. It could be a task, talking to another worker, reading, having an experience of any kind. For example, you may overhear another volunteer complaining that they cannot ever find the lawnmower when it is needed.

Reflective thinking
This is simply thinking about your experience, going over it in you mind. Experience gets changed into real learning this way. For example, you think that the lawnmower needs to be easily obtained if volunteers are going to stay motivated to help with the mowing. You decide to find out what the procedure is supposed to be.

Conclusions
These are the ideas or answers that come from your reflective thinking. For example, you realise that systems that are known and followed are important to successful activities. You conclude that you will talk to some other volunteers and devise a better system.

Planning
This is planning some action following from your conclusions, for example, you talk to others and plan the best way to manage easy access to the lawnmower. You put this into action and this in turn becomes the start of the next cycle of learning.

Additional support
If you think you might need help with language, reading and writing or using numbers, then talk with someone who can help you work out what help you need and the best way to get it. You could talk with: your supervisor or trainer a co-worker or friend a person at your local library, TAFE college or community centre your manager or coordinator of volunteers.

The above people may also be helpful if you need help and support with special requirements because of limited mobility, hearing impairment or visual impairment.

Introduction

Volunteering Australia Inc CHCINF2A Maintain the Organisations Information System

What are you hoping to achieve?


Volunteers come from a very wide range of backgrounds and experience. It could be that you are already very experienced in this work or new to it. This guide is designed to support you in doing one or both of the following: learning more about these duties gaining some formal recognition for the learning that has resulted from your volunteer work.

Gaining formal qualifications for your volunteer work


This Learning Guide is not a set of instructions to be followed or a formal course of study. This means that learners who use the guide should not expect to automatically receive a formal award. However, the content of this Learning Guide is based on a unit of competency that is recognised by the Australian National Training System. This means that if you are able to prove that you can do the things described in this Learning Guide, you may be able to have this formally recognised and be issued with a nationally recognised Statement of Attainment. Of course, you may not be interested in gaining any formal recognition for your work as a volunteer, however, there could be some advantages, for example when you are applying for paid work. This unit is also part of several qualifications in the national training system. If you enrol in a qualification that includes this unit you will be given credit for it, which means that you will not have to do it again. If you would like to get a nationally recognised Statement of Attainment for your volunteer work you could follow the process in the following flowchart.

Introduction

Volunteering Australia Inc CHCINF2A Maintain the Organisations Information System

Introduction

Volunteering Australia Inc CHCINF2A Maintain the Organisations Information System

About this competency


CHCINF2A Maintain the organisations information system.

Element 1
Maintain accurate records.

Performance criteria
1.1 Information needs of clients and key stakeholders are identified and options for meeting them are negotiated with client and other relevant people. Records and information are updated and maintained in accordance with organisational procedures and breaches are reported to supervisor or management. Appropriate and relevant sources of information are identified and accessed so the organisation is able to provide information relevant to its service delivery. Reports are prepared and presented to the required standard.

1.2

1.3

1.4

Element 2
Handle organisational correspondence.

Performance criteria
2.1 2.2 Incoming correspondence is dealt with according to established organisational guidelines. Outgoing correspondence is prepared and dispatched in accordance with organisational procedures.

Element 3
Provide information as required.

Performance criteria
3.1 Information is collected, indexed and maintained in accordance with organisational procedures and requirements and to assure its currency and relevance. Required information is prepared and presented in a manner appropriate to the audience and the purpose and is consistent with organisational procedures.

3.2

Introduction

Volunteering Australia Inc CHCINF2A Maintain the Organisations Information System

3.3 3.4

Client statistics, inquiries and other data are collected and maintained as required. Appropriate processes are utilised to undertake data handling and processing to satisfy workplace needs.

If you are interested in knowing more about this unit of competency go to the National Training Information Service (NTIS) site www.ntis.gov.au Click on Competencies In the Search by national CODE box, type in the competency code. You will find details about the unit of competency here.

Introduction

Volunteering Australia Inc CHCINF2A Maintain the Organisations Information System

How do I get a Statement of Attainment for my volunteer work?


You need to contact a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) in your region and tell them that you want to apply for formal recognition of your volunteer work activities. Tell them the name and national code of the unit you are applying for and ask them whether this unit is within their Scope of Registration. And find out how much they will charge you. TAFE is one well-known RTO found in most parts of Australia, but there are also many more RTOs including state volunteer peak centres (see the links page of the NVSC website, http://www.nvsc.org.au/statecentretraining.html, to find the centre in your state or territory). Formal recognition is usually Recognition of Current Competency (RCC) or sometimes called RPL, which stands for Recognition of Prior Learning but often called just plain Recognition.

How do I contact an RTO?


To find out the contact details for the RTO in your region you need to go to www.ntis.gov.au Click on Registered Training Organisations and then search State Training Authorities.

What next?
You may also need to show that you know why certain tasks are done in a particular way. This guide includes activities and forms to help you create a personal Work Record Portfolio to give to the RTO when you apply for RCC. For more on how to do this please go to the section on Creating Work Record Portfolio. You will need to complete all of the Work Record Portfolio activities in this guide and take them along to the RTO in your region.

What skills do I need?


At the start of each section of the learning materials you will find a Self Assessment listing the skills and knowledge you need to meet the requirements for the element of competency. You can use it to check what skills and knowledge you may have already. hint Use a coloured marker to shade the boxes in the self assessment. You can track your progress by using one colour (say orange) before you undertake the learning actions in this guide, and green after you have progressed in your learning. Note the dates as well.

Introduction

Volunteering Australia Inc CHCINF2A Maintain the Organisations Information System

If you find that almost all your boxes are shaded in columns 4 or 5 of the Self Assessment, you will probably only need to familiarise yourself with the particular requirements of your volunteer involving organisation. You could then proceed to apply to an RTO for Recognition if you wish to do so. If you decide to apply for Recognition you could make use of the Work Record Portfolio activities in this book or collect together other evidence to prove your experience.

Creating a Work Record Portfolio for RCC


The RTO will ask you to provide some clear evidence to show that you can competently carry out the duties described in this unit. A Work Record Portfolio is simply a collection of documents that show the work you have done relevant to this unit. As we said earlier, if an RTO is to give you a Statement of Attainment for CHCINF2A Maintain the Organisations Information System they must have proof of your work. If you are planning to create a Work Record Portfolio, then there are a number of learning actions identified in this guide that you should do. The learning actions you do are recorded on a Work Record form. These Work Records become your Work Record Portfolio if you assemble them and present them neatly in a folder. The following types of workplace documents may be useful as evidence of competency: reports you have written notes from phone conversations logbooks or diary entries testimony from your supervisor forms and short reports processes you have designed.

The RTO may accept your Work Record Portfolio as sufficient evidence to prove your competence or they might ask you for some other forms of evidence.

Hints for presenting your portfolio


Presentation is important, especially if you are claiming recognition for administrative tasks. Try to make your Work Record Portfolio as neat and well organised as you can. Ask for help if you need it. There may be someone in your organisation who would be willing to help you learn how to present information so that it creates a positive impression. They may even offer to wordprocess your work from a handwritten copy or from a conversation about what it is you have done.

Introduction

Volunteering Australia Inc CHCINF2A Maintain the Organisations Information System

The most common and flexible format for a portfolio is probably the ring binder containing clear plastic sleeves for holding collected documents and artifacts, as this will enable you to collect and store evidence and then when presenting the portfolio, to write any explanations of what you are presenting. Before you submit your portfolio to an RTO make sure that the pages are in the correct order. Ask another person to check the portfolio for you. Make sure you have obtained all relevant signatures and that your own name and contact details are clearly marked. Do not add pictures or decorations, except if they are pictures of you at work which genuinely add to your evidence.

Finding a coach or support person


The RTO will also need to be confident that your portfolio is evidence of your own work and not someone elses work. You will see that most Work Records need to be signed by someone who knows you and who also knows that the work you have done is your own. You may use more than one person if you like. We recommend that you decide as early as possible who this will be. When you have decided, take this guide and the Work Record forms to them, explain what it is you need them to do and ask if they would be willing to assist you. It is important to ask them as early as possible so that they know to pay attention to your activities. They will not be able to sign your Work Records if they have not noticed your work. They may find helpful Tips for trainers or support people, at the end of this introduction.

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Volunteering Australia Inc CHCINF2A Maintain the Organisations Information System

Icons used in this book


The following icons have been used to indicate important information or the type of activities that are available. A description of each icon follows.

Indicates that learning action could be taken.

Indicates questions for you to think about or reflect on.

Indicates important points or information about a topic that you should pay particular attention to.

Indicates that you need to complete a Work Record to include in your Work Record Portfolio if you are applying for RCC.

Indicates a note to your coach to help guide you.

Introduction

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Volunteering Australia Inc CHCINF2A Maintain the Organisations Information System

Tips for trainers or support people


If you are reading this it is likely that you are responsible for training people or have some other form of leadership role supporting volunteers in learning. You may have chosen this option because it is important to the success of your project or organisation for volunteers to follow your policies and procedures and to work to a standard. You are probably also committed to providing opportunities and supporting the development of the people you are working with. In order for your volunteer to experience success in learning the procedures and standards of your project/organisation you will need to prepare for training by doing the following things. 1. 2. Read this Learning Guide. Decide what tasks you want the volunteer to complete and the best order in which they should be done. It may help the trainee if you write this down and give them a copy. If the volunteer could apply for Recognition of Current Competency (RCC), locate a person willing to verify their activities and testify to their competence. Collect together relevant documents which explain the policies and procedures relevant to this unit (eg, instruction manuals, forms, procedures, policies, reporting requirements). Make sure you know how and where to access the information the trainee needs (eg blank forms, policies, instruction manuals). Make sure you know where information is sent or stored or reported to after it is collected or recorded. Think about and perhaps write down the steps and key tips for success related to the use of equipment.

3.

4.

5. 6. 7.

Next, conduct a training session by doing some or all of the following things. You will need to decide which activities are most relevant to your organisation or project. The most important thing is for you to explain and demonstrate the required tasks and show good examples of records/reports required. Do this before the volunteer undertakes the task. It is better to start off correctly and avoid the need for your volunteer to unlearn a poor practice. Explain the reasons for the way things are done. Now it is time to demonstrate how to do the task.

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Introduction

Volunteering Australia Inc CHCINF2A Maintain the Organisations Information System

Show any of the following: how a record or form is completed to the standard required how a piece of equipment is used, cared for, cleaned and stored how to report a fault or problem how to submit, store or file a record where to locate information or equipment.

Provide an opportunity for the trainees to observe or work alongside another skilled person if necessary. You can support ongoing learning by: creating opportunities for practice by having the volunteer undertake a task while you watch (for example complete form/record or use a piece of equipment) checking their work to see if it is being done correctly providing encouragement and positive feedback along with handy advice for improvement

You will need to conclude the training by: ensuring that all relevant forms are completed, signed and returned to the trainee promptly acting as an advocate for them or providing assistance in dealing with an RTO if necessary.

Introduction

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Volunteering Australia Inc CHCINF2A Maintain the Organisations Information System

SECTION 1

Maintain Accurate Records

Introduction
All well run organisations have a system to ensure that records of the organisations dealings are maintained and are accurate. This information system is a procedure for processing, storing, distributing and retrieving information.

Information systems
Information systems can be electronic or manual. With an electronic information system information is stored and accessed using a computer. With a manual system information is kept on paper (hard copies) in files. Information systems also include the means by which organisations distribute information, for example, meetings, rosters, internal memos, notice boards, circulation lists. Most organisations will make use of all of these systems to some extent. The information system you need to use in your volunteer involving organisation may be well organised with sophisticated electronic data management systems and people employed simply to manage information. Alternatively the systems could be very informal, with a single person, such as a club secretary, managing the flow and storage of information. You will need to become familiar with the systems used in your organisation, whatever they may be. As a result of completing the Learning activities in this guide you may even see ways in which you could improve the systems for maintaining information in your organisation.

Maintain Accurate Records - Section 1

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What is your current level of competence?


Use the self assessment following to check which skills or knowledge you already have relevant to this unit. You may be a person with a lot of experience in maintaining information systems or this may be the first time you have had to give any thought to how to manage information effectively. If you have had a lot of prior experience you may simply need to familiarise yourself with requirements of your current role in the volunteer involving organisation. If contributing to the maintaining of an organisations information system is new to you, then this workbook will provide you with a guide to learning what is needed to fulfil your role within the organisation. You should then be able to apply what you learn to a range of future situations as well.

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Volunteering Australia Inc CHCINF2A Maintain the Organisations Information System

Self assessment
1 2 3 4 I have the evidence to demonstrate this (note evidence)

I know about this but need more practice/would like someone to check my work

This is a summary of the skills and knowledge needed to be able to meet the requirements of the element. You can use it to check what skills you already have. Please complete this self assessment with your current volunteer role in mind.

Can you:

use the information management system of my volunteer involving organisation? retrieve information from the system as needed? identify what information clients typically seek? identify what information stakeholders need? identify the records I need to keep? forward or store information correctly? locate the information I need to do my job? make and update records as needed? follow protocols for obtaining and storing client information? recognise a breach in procedures related to information management? prepare and present a simple written report? present a simple verbal report based on information obtained?

I can reliably and confidently do this

CHCINF2A Maintain the organisations information systems. Element 1: Maintain accurate records.
I need to learn about this

Maintain Accurate Records - Section 1

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Sources of information
Information can come from many sources. It may be useful to think about information that comes from within your volunteer involving organisation and information which comes from outside your organisation.

Internal information sources


Internal information sources could be: marketing materials such as brochures and information sheets policies and procedures internal Web sites knowledge held by experienced individuals that may not be formally written down client details reports meeting records memos or emails.

External information sources


Information from external sources could be from: local government organisations state government federal government Internet libraries key people peak bodies telephone book brochures from other organisations.

Not all information coming into an organisation, or which is generated by an organisation needs to go to everybody. An important aspect of information management is to provide the right information to the right people in a timely manner and in a way that they find easy to access.

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Volunteering Australia Inc CHCINF2A Maintain the Organisations Information System

Learning activity Types of information

Research what happens in your volunteer involving organisation by asking the following questions and present your findings in the table below. Information needed Complaints procedure What information is needed to do your job as a volunteer? Make a list that identifies five types of information that you need. Where does this information comes from, where could it be found? How is it presented? (eg via email, in a file, computer database) Why is it needed? Where is it found? Policy manual Presentation On computer and hard copy at reception Why would it be needed? To ensure proper process is followed when a client is unhappy about something

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Note to coach
Please provide the volunteer with an overview of the: type of information that comes in and goes out of the organisation type of information storage location of stored information roles and responsibilities of people who manage information.

Portfolio record Types of information


If you are applying for RPL you will need this evidence in your portfolio. You will find a blank table to be competed in the Portfolio Record section at the back of this Learning Guide.

Provide information
People come to organisations needing information. The type of information they need depends on their relationship with the organisation. If they are a client of the organisation, they are more likely to be interested in information relating to services the organisation has to offer, whereas if they are a stakeholder, they may be more interested in the performance of the organisation.

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Volunteering Australia Inc CHCINF2A Maintain the Organisations Information System

Example
A city youth shelter relies on government grants and donations and is managed by paid staff and a group of volunteers on a board of management. The table below shows just some of the information required by people associated with the shelter.
Client or stakeholder Information needed Financial information Number of clients using service Changes in the external environment for example new government initiative or population shifts Role and responsibilities of board members Meeting records Why information is needed How could it be made available Where is it found

Board of Management

Report on progress against goals Planning Grant applications Future planning Effectiveness of Board Legal keeping board informed, decision making

Monthly report from accountant Report from Centre manager Report to Board. Agenda item Board Members Handbook Minutes from each meeting

Hard copy in file cabinet Shelter office files Government information Web sites/reports Folder given to all Board Members Shelter office files

Clients

Rules of the shelter Costs Services available

Responsibilities Accountability for funding Understand needs and rights and responsibilities Marketing so clients know how to access service

Verbally In brochures writing and in pictures community events

File-induction sheet signed by clients on arrival In brochures and handouts On Notice boards

Shelter staff

Policies and procedures Employment conditions Client information Services available

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Client or stakeholder

Information needed Degree of potential risk they may be exposed to from the shelter clients How residents are managed during the night when business may be exposed to risk What action is taken when rules are broken How they could support the shelter

Why information is needed

How could it be made available

Where is it found

Local shops (stakeholder)

Public relations Maintain goodwill of local businesses

Invite to social functions to give information Visit local businesses

Brochures and pamphlets Shelter Website

Learning activity Clients and stakeholders

Now you will identify the clients and the stakeholders of your organisation. Clients can be internal clients (other staff or volunteers) or external clients (people who use or contact your service). One way to identify clients is to talk to your supervisor or other people in the volunteer involving organisation. Another way to find out is to read organisational information that you may have been given. Next, identify the main information each client and stakeholder needs. Ask yourself why they need this information and how they obtain it. Use this information to complete the following table.

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Client or stakeholder

Information needed

Why information is needed

How could it be made available

Where is it found

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Volunteering Australia Inc CHCINF2A Maintain the Organisations Information System

Note to coach
Please assist your volunteer to complete this activity by working through with them any questions they are finding difficult. You may need to identify your volunteer involving organisations internal and external clients, stakeholders or other key people.

Portfolio record Clients and stakeholders


There is a copy in of this table in your Portfolio Record. Complete it after your discussion with your coach.

All organisations will have some key information that is routinely provided to clients or to other stakeholders in the volunteer involving organisation. It is important to identify what information these groups may want and to establish ways of meeting these needs. The needs of your stakeholders and clients will be different from those of another volunteer involving organisation. A basic form of information relevant in almost all situations, however, would be a brochure or flyer giving details of the range of services provided by your organisation.

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Volunteering Australia Inc CHCINF2A Maintain the Organisations Information System

Other examples could cover: services available from other government or not for profit organisations policies and procedures client details information about useful contacts/networks professional development material financial information data collected records of meetings.

Identify needs
When responding to requests for information, it is important that the information is accurate, provided promptly and according to your volunteer involving organisations procedures. But how do you identify the needs of the person requesting information? There are three important steps involved in responding to requests for information: define the request assess its relevance identify gaps.

These steps will help you assess the information needs of the person. Before we look at these in more detail, consider these questions which are opening lines. They are designed to get a response that gives you clues about the type of information the person is requesting. How may I help you? What can I do for you? Is there anything I can get you? Do you require something specific? What kind of information would you like me to get for you? Can you think of any other ways you can ask a person what they need?

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Define the request


It is important that you have a clear idea of the request. Following are some questions and statements you may like to use that can help you clarify what information you need to provide. What type of information is needed? Let me just repeat to you what information you need. You would like information on ... This is a thorough way of ensuring that you have understood what information the person needs. Repeat to the person requesting the information exactly what you have understood the request to be. This is a sound strategy that will save you time in the future. Defining and repeating the request is like a check. It ensures you will search for the most suitable information.

Assess its relevance


Ask yourself, will the information I provide answer the request? There seems little point in going to the trouble of providing information that is totally irrelevant. It is a good idea to make sure the information you have gathered is going to be useful to the person who made the request. Only provide the information the person requests. Remember too much information can be confusing.

Identify any gaps


Ask yourself, is there any information missing? Is there anywhere or anyone else who can help the person with the information they need? These questions help ensure that you have done all you can to help meet the request, sometimes the person may need to be referred to someone else. Identify who that someone else is and pass the information on to that person.

Example
Rowena is a front line worker at the local community health centre in a small rural town. She handles all the requests for information from the public and users of the service. The community health centre provides a medical and dental service, a counselling service and an outreach visiting service to people who live in isolated communities. The workers at the centre include a doctor, dentist, nurse, social worker, youth outreach worker and Aboriginal health worker. There are very few other services in the town.

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A man telephones the centre, looking for information for his daughter who is currently living with a violent husband. By following the three steps (define the request, assess its relevance, identify gaps) Rowena was able to assess the caller's needs as follows: general information on domestic violence specific information on counselling services for domestic violence types of housing options for his daughter.

Rowena can provide information on the counselling service at the centre. She can explain to the caller the procedures for making an appointment and costs, if any. Rowena could offer to: send the caller some pamphlets and brief information about domestic violence encourage him to contact the social worker to find out more about how he can offer support to his daughter.

Rowena cannot assist with accommodation options because the service does not deal with accommodation. So Rowena could then refer the caller to a more appropriate agency.

Checklist
Use this useful checklist as a tool to make sure you have covered all you need to when responding to requests for information. Am I clear about what specific information is needed? Is that information available in my agency? Have I chosen the right way to give the information? Does the receiver have special needs I must be aware of? Is the information clear and relevant? Is additional or supporting information or referral required? Is there information that should be kept confidential? Can I legally hand on this information?

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Match request
How do you match a person's request to the available information? When you are responding to requests for information it is important that you are aware of what information you can access. This means having a clear idea of what services and information your agency can provide. It also means having an idea of what information suits each request. Matching information means providing information relevant to the person and the request. You need to assess whether or not the information you have available is the appropriate information for the person. If a person has a literacy difficulty and requires information, give the information verbally, not in a pamphlet or brochure. Information must also be presented in a way that is suitable for the person receiving it. For example, only provide electronic (digitised) information for people with a computer to access it. Paper based information must be provided for those without a computer.

Example
A young Aboriginal woman wants information on a place where her grandmother can access help for an ulcer on her leg. Kevin makes sure he responds with culturally appropriate services. He puts the young woman in touch with the local Aboriginal health worker who has an understanding of the needs of the Aboriginal community.

Example
Fiona, a social worker wants James to supply information to a family she is working with regarding services his volunteer involving organisation provides. The request is for childcare. He makes sure that he finds out the ages of the children, where they live and how often the children require care. This way he avoids giving incorrect information. Matching information relevant to the request means making sure you supply information that answers the request.

Example
Tou answers a call requesting information concerning accommodation options for a young man. He does not give the caller all the accommodation options for young people. Some options may be for young women only, which will not be helpful to the caller as they are totally irrelevant. A simple way to ensure the information you are providing matches the request is to have all information accessible.

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Special requirements
If you are in the business of providing information to people, it is very important that you have a number of ways that the information can be passed on so that clients who have special needs are catered for. How do you provide information to people in a way that suits their special requirements? Special requirements can include: culture language disability.

It is important you do not assume that there is only one way to provide the information. Providing information to people with special requirements is a challenge and one you should take on. It is advisable to investigate the ways in which information can be delivered and match the information type to the person requesting it. You need to choose a method of information provision that is right for the receiver. Information about useful contacts and services available for people who are blind should be changed to suit their special needs. That is, give information verbally, in Braille or on audio cassette.

Spoken

Electronic

Written

Pictorial

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You may receive requests for information from people with a special need. A person with a special need can include, but is not limited to the following: an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander a person from a non-English speaking background (NESB) a person who has low literacy skills a young homeless person a refugee a person with a disability.

You will need to go that bit further when providing information to people with additional or special needs. Use knowledge of how best to provide information to people from different cultures. Often, your agency guidelines will give you helpful advice on issues such as these.

Examples
There is no point giving out information in English to a person who has just arrived in Australia from Vietnam and can speak little English. Provide the pamphlet in Vietnamese or contact the telephone interpreter service. If you were preparing a flyer advertising a domestic violence support group for women from a non-English speaking background you would choose your words carefully. The phrase `relationship problems may be a better term than domestic violence' which may be too confronting and culturally wrong for some people. If you were providing information on birthing to a young woman who is pregnant an information pack with a video and a small amount of written material would be appropriate. She may not wish to read through a huge textbook on the subject.

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Recording and reporting


Records are an important source of information for organisations and all effective organisations require records of some type to be made and kept. Mostly these records will be made on prepared forms or entered directly onto a computer. If you are working as a volunteer it is important for you to find out exactly: what records you are required to keep why they are made how to update them where they are stored or sent.

You have an important role in assisting the organisation you are working for to make sure accurate information is recorded, maintained, updated and reported. It may be that you are a very practical or hands on person who gets frustrated by the need to do paperwork. Of course, no one likes to do unnecessary work. It is up to all organisations to make the paper work or administrative work as streamlined and easy to complete as possible. There are many reasons for recording information and making and maintaining records. Funding for projects and volunteer involving organisations is often dependent on accurate information being reported back to the funding body. The project or organisation relies on people such as yourself to provide accurate information on time. All organisations or individuals need to account to others for their activities. It may be that you need to account for money that has been given or collected, or time used, or use of machinery for example. Records and reports are often made to promote public awareness and support and to attract funding. Sometimes people need to know about productivity. This is how much work has been done and who has done it, and maybe even how long it took to do. The use of resources (materials and supplies) often needs to be tracked for costing, budgeting and so that supplies are replenished. Information provided can be used to plan, assess or predict future needs. Information and records are needed to provide fast facts. Information can justify ongoing service.

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Many volunteer involving organisations also need to keep client records which include contact details, referral information, communications which take place between the organisation and the client.

So, if you think about it, your role in keeping or making records is quite important in ensuring the ongoing success of the organisation you are working with. It helps to ensure the success of any operation. Updating and maintaining accurate information about clients is a regular activity in the maintenance of the information system. From a personal development point of view, if you are reliable and accurate at making and maintaining up to date records and reports you create a very good impression of yourself as a worker. All leaders and managers have reporting responsibilities and they value volunteers and paid workers who can be relied on to supply the information they need to do their job well. Most organisations will have policies and procedures in place for dealing with records and information. Regardless of what records you have to make you need to know and to follow the organisations policies and procedures for reporting information. You may use records to: record information accurately update information regularly recall and clearly report on information accurately (if a written report is not required) send information to the correct person or place promptly keep information secure so that it is not lost or damaged or at risk of a breach of confidentiality or privacy.

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You may also need to know how to enter or access information using a computer.

Types of records
The type of records that are made will vary enormously from one volunteer service or activity to the next. They could cover things such as: client information internal forms such as leave application use of materials and supplies time sheets job sheets incoming and outgoing correspondence petty cash forms reports for funding bodies financial statements.

Often this information is collected and recorded on a standard form. After a form has been filled in, it is referred to as a record, not a form.

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Learning activity - Records

If you are working alone you may have to contact someone by phone or email and ask them to send the information needed to take this learning action. Ask your supervisor to: show you any forms you need to complete tell you what information you need to collect explain the reports you need to make explain to you how to fill out each section of a form.

If possible ask for some examples of the blank forms that are used to create reports. You will also need to find out who can give you instructions on how to complete the records. Then contact that person and ask for instructions on how to complete the forms or reports to the required standard. This will be especially important if the records are to be entered onto a computer. Now complete the table. Record name Reason kept

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Note to coach
Show the volunteer a range of forms used by the organisation. Please work right through every cell of one or more forms with the volunteer. Emphasise the importance of accuracy and completeness. Where applicable show the policy or procedure that relates to the form.

Portfolio record - Records


If you are planning to apply for RCC you need the information gained from this Learning activity for your Portfolio Record. There is a blank form for you to complete in the Work Record Portfolio.

Breaches in record keeping


Organisational procedures are breached when somebody, intentionally or unintentionally, ignores an agreed procedure for dealing with information in a particular way. For example, information may be discarded when it should be kept in a client file, information may be given out which is meant to be kept confidential, out of date information may be provided (eg an out of date brochure). Information may be provided by people who are not authorised to make the decision.

Example
The youth shelter volunteer asks for reimbursement for travel and this is agreed to by the administrative assistant who should have advised that the volunteer complete a travel authorisation form to send to the management for approval. Breaches can have various consequences from insignificant, nuisance or inconvenient to far more serious legal implications.

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If you become aware of a breach you need to make a decision. If the breach is minor, then it may simply be a matter of informing the supervisor that brochures are out of date and can you dispose of them? In the interest of workplace relations, there should be no blame or people named where minor breaches occur. The problem should simply be fixed and action taken to make sure that the mistake cannot be repeated. If a more serious breach occurs you should discuss this with a supervisor or the person who has final responsibility to ensure that service standards are maintained. The best way to avoid breaches is to ensure that clear information is made available to volunteers about the rules for information management, for example: what request should be referred on and to whom which records should be kept what are rules for disposing of information what are the archiving rules how is information stored what are the access rules what procedure is to be followed for the circulation of a file what are the privacy or confidentiality requirements.

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Learning activity Information management

Find out the answers to the above questions from your coach or supervisor and complete the table. Rules for access or circulation

Request

Referred to

Record stored

Portfolio record Information management


Please complete the table in the Portfolio Record section.

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Maintain accurate records


Ensure any records you make are accurate and complete. Try to record the information as soon as possible. Do not leave it so long that you will have to rely on your memory. Use complete words and full sentences.

Example
If someone asks you: What activities were you involved in this month? dont answer, Selling and phoning. Instead provide more information, I spent 3 days at the Toowong Shopping stand selling memberships for Amnesty International, 300 calls were made to potential clients in February with 8% accepting the offer we made. Be really clear, instead of We sold lots of care packs this month, say or write, We sold 500 care packs in January 2004. If you have problems with spelling, then do a trial version of your report and ask someone to check your work for you. Even the most experienced writers do this because it is usually very difficult to see your own mistakes. Fill out all blank spaces on a form and write in pen, not in pencil, as forms are often a legal document.

Common faults
Forms are not always effective. They may have been filled in by someone who was in too much of a hurry to make a careful check for correctness and completeness. It is best to be methodical when filling out forms. That is start at the top and work your way carefully through the form completing every cell. Some forms have questions that are not relevant in every case and these can be completed by writing NA for not applicable in that particular cell. We are now going to look at a form that has been filled in correctly and then the same form that has been filled in badly.

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Study the two examples and see if you can work out how the good example is better than the poor example.

Good example - requisition

Pantry stock notice for cleaners


Unit number: Volunteer name: Goods Coffee sachets Sugar sachets Tea bags 1 litre milk Toilet rolls Soap bars Dishwashing liquid 6B Marcus Base stock 15 30 15 2 4 4 1 Date: Stock in hand 8 2 14 0 2 0 1/2 bottle 3 March 04 Restock required 7 28 1 2 2 4 1

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Poor example - requisition

Pantry stock notice for cleaners


Unit number: Volunteer name: Goods Coffee sachets Sugar sachets Tea bags 1 litre milk Toilet rolls Soap bars Dishwashing liquid Joan Base stock 15 30 15 2 4 4 1 Date: Stock in hand 8 2 14 0 2 0 1/2 bottle ? X2 3 March Restock required

Did you notice what was missing from the bad example? The unit number was blank. The date was there but not complete. The restock required column was not precise because it did not specify exactly the stocks that were required. The restock number is easily calculated by subtracting the stock in hand from the base stock. Lets have a look at another good and poor example of form filling.

Good example - Travel log

Travel log
Car registration Number: Date 3/3/ 04 Driver Young-Joo Lim OD Start 24.764 VHS 6789 Destination NY Youth Serv Launceston OD Stop 24.794 KM Signed

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YJL

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Poor example - Travel log

Travel log
Car registration Number: Date Driver Hannan OD Start 24.794 Destination Hobart OD Stop KM Signed BHH

Did you notice in four places the poor example was missing information?

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Learning activity - Accurate records

Now study the two examples of Hazard Report methodically.

Good example - Hazard report Hazard Report


Workplace: Depot 1 ..........................................................Date: 3/3/04 Name of person reporting: Elana Despina.................... Workplace hazard Hazardous work practice

Description of hazard: (Include area and task involved, any equipment, tools, people involved. Attach sketches if necessary.) Light switch in room number 24 sparking and making a noise when touched. Possible remedies: (List any suggestions you have for reducing or eliminating the problem, eg redesign mechanical devices, education, maintenance work etc.) Maintenance required. I have covered the switch with cardboard and a sign warning not to touch the switch. Reported to: Name: L Romaneski .................................... Position: Team leader Action taken: (To be completed by Supervisor and include action at local level or referral to other sources.) Evaluation: Hazard eliminated Hazard controlled

Is any further action necessary? No - Adams electrical checked other switches in Depot 1 Signed (Team Leader): L Romaneski............................... Date: 3/3/04 Signed (OHS Consultant): M Gerke.................................... Date: 5/3/04

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Poor example - Hazard report Hazard Report


Workplace: Depot ............................................................Date: March 04 Name of person reporting: E Despina .............................. Workplace hazard Hazardous work practice

Description of hazard: (Include area and task involved, any equipment, tools, people involved. Attach sketches if necessary.) Faulty light switch in room near sink. Possible remedies: (List any suggestions you have for reducing or eliminating the problem, e.g. redesign mechanical devices, education, maintenance work etc.) ..................................................................................................... ..................................................................................................... Reported to: Name: L R........................................................Position: T l Action taken: (To be completed by Supervisor and include action at local level or referral to other sources.) Evaluation: Hazard eliminated Hazard controlled

Is any further action necessary? No Signed (Team Leader): L R ..................................................Date: 5/3 Signed (OHS Consultant): ......................................................Date:

Note to coach
A methodical approach to the exercise should pick up several examples of the lack of precision in the poor example. Please show the volunteer the policy and procedures governing OHS reports and discuss the potential for these to be used as evidence in a court of law.

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List what is good about the first example of Hazard Report when you compare it to the bad example. ....................................................................... ....................................................................... ....................................................................... ....................................................................... ....................................................................... ....................................................................... ....................................................................... ....................................................................... ....................................................................... ....................................................................... ....................................................................... ....................................................................... ....................................................................... ....................................................................... .......................................................................

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Learning activity - Present information

1.

Identify a major client group, or group of people who make regular use of the services provided by your volunteer involving organisation. Briefly describe the characteristics of this group. Make sure you make a note of the objectives of the group, who they provide services to, the service that your organisation provides which they access, reasons for the use of the service.

2.

Now think about the information they require from your volunteer involving organisation. What would be the most accessible or useful format that you could provide the information to them with? One way of finding the answer to the above question would be to ask this group and record their answers.

3.

Now lets look at the information you provide. - Where would you obtain the information? - How could you ensure that it was readily available when needed? - How could you ensure that it was kept up to date?

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Description of client

Information about your services

Ensuring information remains accessible and accurate

Where is it stored? Client name and objectives Describe the information they need

Is there a better place for storage?

Clients reasons for accessing your organisations services

Describe how you could best provide that information

What systems are in place for ensuring currency and accuracy?

Is there a better system you can suggest?

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Summary
By now you should have a good idea about the types, range and sources of information you will need to access and use in your role. Maintaining this information by keeping it up to date, organised and easily accessible will be of great assistance in meeting the information needs of clients and stakeholders or other key people involved with your volunteer involving organisation.

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SECTION 2

Handle Correspondence

This section deals with how you handle incoming and outgoing correspondence correspondence for the organisation. You will learn that it needs to be dealt with according to established organisational guidelines and procedures and you will investigate the procedures for dealing with incoming correspondence and the preparation and despatch of outgoing correspondence in your organisation.

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Self assessment
1 2 3 4 I have the evidence to demonstrate this (note evidence)

I know about this but need more practice/would like someone to check my work

This is a summary of the skills and knowledge needed to be able to meet the requirements of the element. You can use it to check what skills you already have. Please complete this self assessment with your current volunteer role in mind.

Can you:

follow the organisational procedures for processing incoming correspondence? follow the organisational procedure for preparing and dispatching outgoing correspondence?

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I can reliably and confidently do this

CHCINF2A Maintain the organisations information systems. Element 2: Handle organisational correspondence.
I need to learn about this

Volunteering Australia Inc CHCINF2A Maintain the Organisations Information System

Incoming information
When you process incoming information you assess the information, that is, work out what it is about, and then you make sure that it gets to the people who need it. To do this effectively you must ask yourself: Who it is for? (For example, is it addressed to an individual or to the organisation in general?) What is the best way to pass this information on? (For example should it be placed in an in-tray, pinned to the bulletin board or emailed around your organisation?) How confidential it is? Who should be allowed to see it? Who should not see it? Does it need to be kept in a secure place? What procedures (if any) must be followed regarding the distribution of this information?

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Learning activity Incoming information

Interview one of the people who processes the incoming information or correspondence in your workplace. If information processing is one of your volunteer jobs ask someone else, if this is possible, to gain a different viewpoint. Find out what happens to eight different pieces of incoming information. Remember to consider emails and faxes. Use the table on the following page to present your findings.

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Type of information Flyer about - a conference

Who is it for? Manager, staff volunteers

Does it need to be circulated? Yes

How should it be circulated? Photocopied and circulated, posted on Training Noticeboard

Should it be treated confidentially? No

Are there any security issues security No

What organisational procedures need to be followed? I record number of copies in Photocopying Book, place copies in relevant pigeon holes, place original in Training File, write date on copy and post on notice board.

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Portfolio record Incoming information


Complete the table in the Portfolio Record section if you are developing a portfolio of work for RCC.

Sometimes volunteers and paid staff work for short periods in many different roles. For instance, a volunteer who usually works in the creche in a community centre might be asked to relieve in the office because another volunteer is away sick. This volunteer will need to `hit the ground running' and it is unlikely there will be much time available for training. The same type of situation applies to paid staff who are often required to fill in when someone is on leave or off sick.

Example
Ricci is one of the regular volunteers in the Community Garden Program at the Silver Citizens Centre. Today one of the regular office volunteers has to attend a medical appointment. The centre's coordinator knows that Ricci is keen to develop some basic administration skills so she asks Ricci to work with Kris in the office for the morning. After a quick 'tour' with Kris of the phones, photocopier and fax machine, Ricci is asked to collect and sort the incoming mail for the day. This includes faxes and mail delivered to the centre's post office box. The centre requires that all incoming correspondence is recorded in a Correspondence Book before being delivered to the relevant pigeon-holes for the Centre Coordinator, Finance Coordinator, Program Coordinators, Volunteer Coordinator, Grounds Coordinator, Committee Chairperson, Sub Committee Conveners. This is not an unusual situation as some of you who volunteer would understand. It is amazing how well we cope with being given the challenge of new work!

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Learning activity - Checklist

Develop a checklist for new or relieving volunteer and/or paid staff to use when collecting and sorting incoming mail at your workplace. Or Develop a checklist for your own position that would help others who are asked to fill in for you. Suggest the best location for this checklist to be kept and give your reasons for choosing this location. Checklist for.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . To be stored . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ................................................................. ................................................................. ................................................................. ................................................................. ................................................................. ................................................................. ................................................................. ................................................................. ................................................................. .................................................................

Portfolio record Checklist


Complete the checklist in the Portfolio Record section.

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Outgoing correspondence
Now we will look at dealing with outgoing correspondence. In the previous topic we asked you to identify some of the types of information that are sent out by organisations. Your list might have included: agendas minutes application forms newsletters calendars promotional brochures contact lists receipts flyers reports invitations rosters invoices timetables letters.

These could have been sent as printed material by post, as faxes or emails.

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Learning activity Outgoing correspondence

If you look at the list, what would be the most common information type to go out of your organisation? ....................................................................... ....................................................................... ....................................................................... Are there any rules about sending out this information? ....................................................................... ....................................................................... .......................................................................

Each organisation has protocols for managing certain types of information. For instance, you might be required to attach a 'With Compliments' slip to each piece of outgoing correspondence which relates to the activities of your organisation. You might need to record each piece of posted correspondence in a mail book. Some organisations require that a photocopy of each cover page is kept for all outgoing fax messages. You may be required to seek permission from your manager before you can include the organisation's logo on any outgoing correspondence. Some organisations require that all documents are produced using a standard template. Electronic communication systems can be great time and cost savers for many organisations but can also be unreliable at times and therefore require careful management in terms of 'electronic hygiene' and confidentiality. Standard phrases on fax cover pages are used to minimise risk of lost pages and to minimise the risk of the information being sent to the wrong person or organisation.

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For example, these words might be used on every facsimile message cover page: The information in this facsimile message is intended for the named recipients only. It may contain confidential information and if you are not the intended recipient, you must not copy, distribute or take any action in receipt of it. If you have received this facsimile in error, please notify us immediately. Thank you. Organisations which rely on information technology as their main form of communication usually require that certain protocols are observed for outgoing messages to protect both the sender and receiver of email-based information. Usually a standard signature of the senders name, title and contact details are set to automatically appear at the end of an email. Often this is followed by a carefully worded disclaimer and warning statement. For example, these words might be included at the end of the every email message sent by Hugh Schultz who works at the Youthelp organisation:

Usually the organisation will require that a copy of any outgoing correspondence is stored for future reference and to assist the organisation to meet its legal obligations.

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These protocols are all designed to contribute to quality and effective management of the organisation's affairs and. specifically to help in the proper management of information.

Learning activity - Protocols

Work with others in your group or discuss with others in an organisation and identify some of the protocols or procedures in your place of work that cover the issues raised in these materials. Do you have an official letterhead and when is it used? ....................................................................... ....................................................................... ....................................................................... Do you have standard statements and organisation identification on fax cover sheets? ....................................................................... What security is there on the email systems to ensure that messages are appropriate? ....................................................................... .......................................................................

Portfolio record Protocols


There is a table in the Portfolio Record section for you to document procedures that you uncovered by completing the activity. Choose five types of information that you have some responsibility for sending out. For each one, write the procedures you have to follow in relation to approval, formatting and despatch.

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Learning activity Handle correspondence

Select one type of incoming correspondence that you deal with in your organisation. Prepare a flow chart to illustrate the path that the document takes from receipt in the organisation to the filing of a copy of the response to the correspondence. Make sure that you include any special requirements or protocols that need to be followed.

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Summary
The information that we receive into an organisation is important, it has been sent for a purpose, so we need to have systems for dealing with it. There are many occasions when information has arrived in the organisation on time, but has been lost in the system and deadlines have been missed. This does not give a professional image to the organisation. The same could be said for the way that information is sent out. So keep the systems working, and if they do not work, then suggest some alternatives.

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SECTION 3

Provide Information

If a volunteer involving organisation has a well maintained information system you should be able to locate any information you need quite easily in the organisations information system. Remember, information systems may be in manual paper based or electronic formats. This section will encourage you to find out how to collect and provide information as requested by your organisation or external clients. Information that belongs to an organisation needs to be filed and stored in a way that enables it to be easily searched for data or easily located when it is needed. It also needs to be stored securely so that it is protected from misuse, damage and loss. Storing and maintaining information involves following your organisations policies and procedures for filing, indexing and circulating information. If you are in a small organisation where no accepted practice exists you may need to create a simple and effective system yourself.

Provide Information - Section 3

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Self assessment
1 2 3 4 I have the evidence to demonstrate this (note evidence)

I know about this but need more practice/would like someone to check my work

This is a summary of the skills and knowledge needed to be able to meet the requirements of the element. You can use it to check what skills you already have. Please complete this self assessment with your current volunteer role in mind.

Can you:

create an indexed file of information collected? use an indexed file system to store information? retrieve information from an indexed file system? collect simple data or statistics? maintain client data? use data handling processes if required by the volunteer involving organisation? organise and present simple data?

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I can reliably and confidently do this

CHCINF2A Maintain the organisations information systems. Element 3: Provide information as required.
I need to learn about this

Volunteering Australia Inc CHCINF2A Maintain the Organisations Information System

File and index information


Information for filing will be categorised or indexed in some way, by labels, numbers, colour codes, titles, subjects or computer retrieval keys. Organisations often have a standard footer on documents they produce to indicate where it is located in a computer system and when the document was produced. This simple strategy for locating information is one that all organisations should have as part of their information management system.

Important In a small volunteer organisation it is not uncommon to find that individuals are holding information in their own households or other locations. For example, the treasurer may have the financial records and the secretary has the meeting minutes and the president has lots of varied information. This is not a desirable situation as information may not be available when needed and the history of the organisation may be lost as people come and go. In some situations it may also be in breach of laws relating to financial management or privacy. There may be good reasons why the organisation is unable to keep information in a central place. If this

Provide Information - Section 3

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is the situation it would at a good idea to create an index of information that identifies where it is and how it is accessed. It is very important for volunteers to understand the distinction between information that belongs to the organisation and information that belongs to private individuals.

Storing and retrieving information from filing systems


There are many ways of organising files. Files may be organised by: date, for example, January 2004, February 2004 subject, for example Job Sheets, Time Sheets, Care Charts names of people (in alphabetical order) for example, Allen, Brown, De Boretto, Lui, Wagatsuma. numerical code, for example C 100DS C means Client File, Client number 100 and DS means that this client is receiving Disability Support (this file may be identified in a computerised system and accessed by entering the numeric code).

Or they may be organised using a combination of methods, for example, Job Sheets (topic) arranged in order of date received (date). In this example, topic is the primary system of organisation and date received is the secondary system. Your organisation may have a set procedure for storing information, for example, standard file categories or a coding or indexed system that you will need to learn and use. It is particularly important to carefully maintain client records such as assessment and referral information if you are working in a community service or health service organisation. Key points for securing records are: store or file without delay store in a logical, easy to access system keep in a container that will remain dry and protected from other forms of damage ensure that privacy and confidentiality are protected, never leave records containing personal details lying around for others to see.

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Learning activity - Filing

Part 1 If your organisation uses a filing system check the method of organising two types of files in your organisation and work out the primary and secondary system of organisation. Name of file . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Primary system . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Secondary system . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Name of file . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Primary system . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Secondary system . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Part 2 Find out if your organisation uses a coding or indexing system for filing. If it does ask someone to instruct you on its use and what would be expected of you. If you are required to search a computer to obtain information you will need to ask for direction on how to do this.

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Part 3 Does your organisation has any other important way of tracking or identifying information, such as, footer, index codes? ....................................................................... ....................................................................... .......................................................................

Note to coach
Successful completion of this exercise may require access to files not usually used by the volunteer. You may be able to demonstrate the results of misfiling. If you are working in a small volunteer organisation it may also mean contacting individuals who may be holding their own files or records. This could be an opportunity for you and the volunteers to review your information management system if necessary.

Portfolio record - Filing


Complete the table in the Portfolio Record showing how four types of file are organised in your volunteer involving organisation.

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Collecting data
Organisations are often required to collect, process and present certain statistical information to help the organisation plan, extend or improve the services or activities it provides or report to funding bodies, sponsors and project partners. This information is one way of providing evidence that the organisation is meeting agreed goals and outcomes. Organisations (coordinators and managers) need to develop systematic processes to ensure that useful data is collected (rather than trying to document everything), processed and presented to the people who can use it. For example, data may need to be collected to answer questions such as: how many people are contacted by the volunteer involving organisation how much of stock or supplies are used how much time is spent on certain activities how many clients use a service and what their needs are how many inquiries are received who your clients are what are the characteristics of our clients.

An organisation may be involved in collecting scientific data, such as, the number of feral cats counted each night in a forest area. Most organisations must collect: financial data such as income received and expenditure resources ordered and used.

Usually it is the responsibility of the coordinator of volunteers to identify which data should be collected and to devise ways to capture the raw data and present it to others. If your volunteer involving organisation wants you to collect data it will more than likely give you a standard procedure and forms (or computer files) on which to record the data you are collecting. When you hand on the data it may be analysed and interpreted to answer key questions about the organisation's current and future activities. However, you may need to compile and present the data you have collected to other people in a usable form. For example, new clients may fill out a form that identifies personal information, such as their age, income, and circumstances. The organisation may need to

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know how many women present with a complaint about domestic violence and other details such as their occupation and age. The person requesting this information only needs to know numbers in each category of information, not personal details such as names. Indeed, in the interests of confidentiality and legal obligations to protect privacy they may not be authorised to obtain names. The volunteer may need to go back to each client record and extract and summarise this information. There may be standardised procedures in place for presenting the information gathered such as: a standard form a table entry into a spreadsheet on a computer an oral report where you phone through with information or simply tell another person discussion in a group such as a focus group.

An example of a simple table to present data is given below.

Problems identified on admission forms by clients using the shelter in 2004


Client assessed in 2004 A100 B100 C100 D100 A200 Totals Age 19 34 26 24 29 19-34 Age Range Domestic violence x x x x x 5 1 2 x x 3 Drug use x x x x Gambling Child custody problems

In Section 2 we looked at the importance of considering the needs of your audience when providing information. This is also applicable to providing data to others. Another example of simple data collection could be simply counting the number of people who enter an event each year and working out whether there is an increase or decrease. This could be presented as a simple percentage.

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Would it be most useful in a list, or a table or even as a simple graph, for example, 2003 500 people entered a fun run, in 2004 it was 550 - this represents a 10% increase. When collecting and providing information you need to: know exactly what information you are being asked to obtain what, if any standard procedures you have to follow who you report to, when and how often what form that report should take.

You will also need to: organise your information clearly in away, which is easy to interpret think and talk to other people about the best way to present this information.

If you had such data on the number of entrants to a fun run over a period of eight years you may want to present it in a graph.

There are computer programs (such as Excel) which can be used to produce graphs and charts of data. If you are unfamiliar with this you can use this learning opportunity to learn how to create a graph if needed.

Resources
The NVSC Learning Guide THHGTO1A Access and retrieve computer data will assist you to learn these skills.

Present written information neatly


It is important to present written information neatly. Where possible have it word-processed. Make sure that pages are stapled together and the information is identified with a title page, date it was produced and where it is located. Check that correct spelling and grammar is used. You may also need to keep a copy to be filed.

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Note to coach
Assist the volunteer to identify data which is collected by the volunteer involving organisation and which is relevant to their role in the organisation. For example, If the organisation is a local tennis club they may look at the age range and gender of the membership and present this in a small written or oral report to a meeting

Learning activity - Present data

Select one set of data that is most relevant to your role as a volunteer. Summarise this data and present it in a format that is useful to the organisation and the audience.

Portfolio record - Present data


Retain a copy for your Portfolio Record.

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Provide information
Many volunteer involving organisations send out pre-prepared information in response to enquiries. Examples could include: information about issues (eg pollution in the local waterways) information about events (rally against genetically modified crops) background information (the benefits of exercise for health in old age) membership applications (fees and charges benefits of local tennis club) services available in the volunteer involving organisation (Youth shelter).

As you will know by now, a fast and reliable response is more likely to be made when information is stored in a logical system. This way it is readily to hand to be collected and put into an envelope for postage or collection or obtained from computer files for postage or emailing. In most organisations the requests for information can be quite predictable. In this case it is a good idea to have the information already on hand to pass on. For example, a person makes a membership inquiry in your organisation. A typical response would include a brochure and membership form. You might also include a complimentary item (such as, a ticket or invitation to an event). All of these items can be grouped and put into envelopes that simply need addressing to be sent. This approach can save you a lot of time and effort in the long run. It also encourages people to respond to requests instead of putting it to one side where it may never get done.

Summary
Simple systems for managing information which are maintained by people in the volunteer involving organisation will facilitate access to accurate and up to date information to clients, stakeholders and other key people who may need it. The key to maintaining an organisations information system is for volunteers to learn the procedures for maintaining accurate records, dealing with correspondence and collecting and providing information which meets the needs of clients.

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Resources
Central Queensland University Library website www.library.cqu.edu.au Cole, K (2004) Business administration for the office, Pearson Education (Australia) Department of Commerce, Office of Information & Communication Technology, NSW website www.oit.nsw.gov.au Horsefall, M and Cairns, S (2001) Office skills - a practical approach, McGrawHill, Australia Nicholas, J (2003) Business administration for the office 1, Tertiary Press (Australia) Nicholas, J (2003) Business administration for the office 2, Tertiary Press (Australia)

Acknowledgements
Process and provide information, National Training materials for Community and Health Industry, ANTA 1987. Provide information in relation to specific uses, National Training materials for Community and Health Industry, ANTA 1987.

Resources

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Portfolio Record
CHCINF2A Maintain the Organisations Information System

Portfolio Record

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Types of information
Information needed Where is it found? Presentation Why would it be needed?

Portfolio Record

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Clients and stakeholders


Client or stakeholder Information needed Why information is needed How could it be made available Where is it found

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Records
Record name Reason kept Attachment number

Information management
Request Referred to Record stored Rules for access or circulation

Portfolio Record

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Present information
Description of client Information about your services Ensuring information remains accessible and accurate

Where is it stored? Client name and objectives Describe the information they need Is there a better place for storage?

Clients reasons for accessing your organisations services

Describe how you could best provide that information

What systems are in place for ensuring currency and accuracy?

Is there a better system you can suggest?

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Incoming information
Type of information Who is it for? Does it need to be circulated? How should it be circulated? Should it be treated confidentially? Are there any security issues What organisational procedures need to be followed?

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Checklist
Checklist for . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. To be stored . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ................................................................................. ................................................................................. ................................................................................. ................................................................................. ................................................................................. ................................................................................. ................................................................................. ................................................................................. ................................................................................. ................................................................................. ................................................................................. .................................................................................

Protocols
Procedures for approval Procedures for formatting Procedures for storage

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Handle correspondence
Prepare a flow chart to illustrate the path for correspondence.

Portfolio Record

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Filing
File 1
Name of file ........................................................................................................................................................ Primary system .................................................................................................................................................. Secondary system ..............................................................................................................................................

File 2
Name of file......................................................................................................................................................... Primary system................................................................................................................................................... Secondary system ..............................................................................................................................................

File 3
Name of file ........................................................................................................................................................ Primary system .................................................................................................................................................. Secondary system ..............................................................................................................................................

File 4
Name of file......................................................................................................................................................... Primary system................................................................................................................................................... Secondary system ..............................................................................................................................................

Present data
Please find attached . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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Information to supervisors about providing a third party report


The volunteer in your organisation is seeking formal recognition from a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) for the competence they have used or gained as a volunteer. The volunteer will provide evidence to the RTO that they can competently do the work described on the form you have been given. A very important part of this evidence is confirmation from a third party. The confirmation is in the form of supporting statements from workplace supervisors, or others in a more senior or experienced position who have first hand knowledge of the applicants work. You have been nominated by the volunteer as an appropriate person to complete the Third Party Confirmation (attached). You should only sign the Third Party Confirmation if you are confident that the volunteer could consistently follow the correct procedures. If you are uncertain about whether or not a person is ready to be signed off then you could check by doing any of the following. Ask questions and ask for a demonstration. Explain and demonstrate the tasks. Provide opportunities for the volunteer to practise the tasks and then observe and sign at a later stage. Provide feedback which briefly informs the volunteer that you are unable to sign off at this stage and that you believe they will benefit from further experience. It may be that your organisation is unable to provide suitable opportunities for learning aspects of the assessment. Seek the assistance of a qualified trainer or training organisation such as TAFE, state/territory volunteer centre or an official in your organisation who can provide feedback to the volunteer and make alternative arrangements for assessment.

It may be that you have not had any opportunity to observe the volunteer undertaking the tasks described. If this is the case then please remind the volunteer of this and do not sign the report. Thank you for giving your time to support the volunteers application.

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Supervisor details
As the supervisor for the volunteer applying for recognition of current competency, please provide some information which will help the RTO. Your name: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Volunteers name: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Your Phone Number(s): . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Your email: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Your position: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Your workplace: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Are you familiar with the national competency standard for the work you are commenting on? No Yes, reasonably familiar (I have read them) Yes, very familiar Yes No

Do you have any formal qualifications in assessment and /or workplace training?

If yes please give details: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . If applicable, please give a brief description of your qualifications and/ or experience in relation to the units you are providing a testimonial for.

What is your work relationship with the applicant? (Eg, supervisor, team leader, manager/ coordinator of volunteers, co-volunteer)

How long have you worked with the person you are providing this report for?

Do you have first hand experience of the volunteers work?

Yes

No

Please briefly describe how you know about the standard of the applicants work relevant to the tasks you have been asked to comment on? (Use reverse side if needed)

Signature:. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Date. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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Third party report


Name of volunteer CHCINF2A Maintain the organisations information system Organisation

Is the applicant able reliably to meet the organisations performance standards for the following tasks and knowledge?
Information needs of clients and key stakeholders are identified and options for meeting them are negotiated with clients and other relevant people. Records and information are updated and maintained in accordance with organisational procedures and breaches are reported to supervisor or management. Appropriate and relevant sources of information are identified and accessed so the organisation is able to provide information relevant to its service delivery. Reports are prepared and presented to the required standard. Incoming correspondence is dealt with according to established organisational guidelines. Outgoing correspondence is prepared and dispatched in accordance with organisational procedures. Information is collected, indexed and maintained in accordance with organisational procedures and requirements and to assure its currency and relevance. Required information is prepared and presented in a manner appropriate to the audience and the purpose and is consistent with organisational procedures. Client statistics, inquiries and other data are collected and maintained as required. Appropriate processes are utilised to undertake data handling and processing to satisfy workplace needs.

Not observed

Please use this checklist to confirm the work experience of the volunteer. This information is confidential for use by a Registered Training Organisation to assess the volunteers competence against the unit.

Third party verification Please initial

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Optional Comments:

Signed by: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Date: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Position . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

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