Volunteers form the backbone of rural community transport services. They deliver a range of services including driving transport-disadvantaged clients to essential health and social care appointments. While trips for social care are usually local, trips for health appointments often involve long distances, long days, and out of pocket expenses for the drivers. In these situations volunteers and their passengers are exposed to increased levels of risk. Governments at all levels consider volunteer involvement as civic participation or social capital, yet little is known about the experiences of rural volunteer community transport drivers or local policy that governs their work. This paper describes a study that conducted an analysis of policy documents related to volunteer activity in four community transport organisations in rural NSW. The study explored variations in policies, whether volunteer drivers had participated in their development or revision, and whether the government models of the service agency was related to volunteer policy.

Key findings include: that operational policies lack consistency across the services; that the role of volunteer drivers varies across services located in the same region; that participation of volunteers in either developing or reviewing local policies that govern their work was evident in the policies of only one of the four services; and that governance models do not appear to be related to volunteer participation.