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FAQs

Eligibility

Can I work overseas with AVI?
Is there an age limit?
What skills are needed?
Can I take my partner or children?
Can I choose where I go?
What happens to my information?

Support and preparation

What support is provided?
What does the living allowance cover?

What other financial support is provided?

Where will I stay?

Should I take a computer with me?
Can I take my pet with me?
Will AVI help me prepare for my assignment?

What First Aid training will I need?
Is language training provided?
Are vaccinations included?
Are there AVI staff in country?
Can I return to Australia if there is a crisis at home?

Your assignment

What's involved in applying for an assignment?
How long do I go for?

How will my work be assessed?
Will I have holidays?
What are my responsibilities as an AVI volunteer?
What happens if I do not complete my assignment?

Health and security

How can I stay healthy during my assignment?
What happens if I get sick on assignment?
Will I be safe?
What happens if there is a crisis in country?

More information and resources

Background information on international development and volunteering
Networking and jobs within the international development sector
Information for health professionals
Youth and young adult volunteering opportunities
Short-term volunteering
Volunteering within Australia


Can I work overseas with AVI?

To work with AVI, you apply for assignments advertised on our website.

All our assignments have been requested by our partner organisations. They tell us what skills they need to build their capacity and strengthen their work, and we recruit people with the right mix of skills and experience to work with them. Most of our assignments require a professional qualification and relevant work experience -  usually two years or more. This is because our volunteers are expected to pass on skills to the staff of their host organisations, and to work in advisory and training roles.

There is a formal set of  selection criteria included in the detailed Assignment Description document available for each assignment . Volunteers are selected using a competitive recruitment process, very similar to that used in applying for Government positions.  Candidates are asked to demonstrate their successful use of the professional and personal competencies that are listed in the Selection Criteria.   The candidate who best demonstrates their match to the selection criteria, in the context of the assignment and location, is offered the opportunity of becoming a volunteer.   AVI will not fill an assignment if none of the applicants are able to demonstrate a satisfactory match to the selection criteria.

I am not an Australian citizen - can I still work with AVI?

Programs and projects managed by AVI have different elibility based on funding or contractual constraints.

The Australian Volunteers for International Development program is open to Australian citizens, Australian permanent residents and New Zealand citizens resident in Australia.

The Pacific Technical Assistance Mechanism (PACTAM) is open to applicants of all nationalities.

Other project related assignments will specifiy citizenship eligibility in the selection criteria.


Is there an age limit?

You must be at least 18 to participate in most AVI programs. We set no upper age limit and welcome Australians aged 50 plus in our programs.

Most of our assignments require a professional qualification and relevant work experience -  usually two years or more. This is because our volunteers are expected to pass on skills to the staff of their host organisations, and to work in advisory and training roles.

AVI encourages young people to get involved in the Volunteer Program where they have the life skills and professional experience requested; and also to explore the wide range youth oriented volunteering opportunities available with other organisations.

What skills are needed?

We place volunteers from a wide range of occupations, click here for a list of commonly requested skills.


Can I take my partner or children?

AVI is able to accept applications from candidates to the AVID program seeking support for accompanying dependants, with some limitations based on security, visa, cultural and program support issues. Please call to discuss your family circumstances with a Recruitment Consultant, if you are considering applying to have your partner or family accompany you.

Download the fact sheets:


Can I choose where I go?

Assignments in the Volunteer Program are developed at the request of our local partner organisations overseas, in line with our program strategies. This means you will be applying for a specifically identified position with an organisation in country, so the application process is much like applying for a regular job. See examples by looking at our New Assignments page.

Assignments in the PACTAM program are created in a similar way, but only based in the Pacific and are recruited on an as-needs basis.

What happens to my information?

All participants in the AVID program are required to agree to the terms and conditions of the AVID Privacy Disclosure Statement. You will be asked to consent to this statement before you can lodge your application online. The statement allows your information to be used in the administration, evaluation and promotion of the AVID program.

Click here to read the statement.

Click here to download a printable version of the form.

For more information contact the Volunteer Recruitment Manager at +613 9279 1788.


What support is provided?

Participants on most AVI programs, including the Volunteer Program, receive return airfares, visas, medical insurance, living allowances and accommodation. You will also participate in a comprehensive briefing before you depart and an orientation program when you arrive in country. In addition, AVI provides in-country support through its local offices or partner organisations.


What does the living allowance cover?

The living allowance on the Volunteer Program will enable you to live a modest local lifestyle. Payment will be made on a monthly basis in Australian dollars and into an Australian bank account. This allowance takes into account food, travel, communication and other local costs. At the same time, it will not enable you to save large amounts of money or meet financial commitments at home, such as a mortgage or a personal loan. We set living allowances based on the cost of living in a particular country.

The PACTAM Program provides remuneration at Australian market rates, with moderate expatriate benefits.


What other financial support is provided?

If your Volunteer Program assignment is seven months or longer in duration, AVI will provide you with a settling-in allowance and a resettlement allowance. These allowances are designed to contribute towards the cost of passports, excess baggage, initial food, household items and any other costs incurred during departure. The settling in allowance is paid prior to departure by direct transfer to your Australian bank account.

The resettlement allowance is designed to offset some of the costs of excess baggage, departure tax and en route and resettlement expenses. This allowance is paid on completion of an assignment.


Where will I stay?

Accommodation will either be provided by the overseas employer or AVI will provide an accommodation allowance to cover rental of secure but modest housing. With an allowance you will be able to seek housing that best matches your own needs and the budget available.  In some locations, the high cost of rental housing may mean that volunteers will share accommodation, so that they are able to afford the appropriate level of security.

Should I take a computer with me?

AVI encourages you to make use of the equipment supplied by your host organisation when you are at work. If there is no computer, you may be doing your counterpart and your host organisation a disservice by using your own. Coming in with your own computer that has all the right software, no viruses, is speedy and makes your work look better will definitely make your work easier for you, but will not benefit your counterpart who may have to use an old desktop (if there is one at all).

And what happens when you leave? The 'visual quality' of the work produced will likely go down. Your counterpart and the organisation may not be able to continue to produce newsletters, spreadsheet analyses and reports that they have come to rely on.

Host organisations seek the flexibility of volunteers, not just a skills exchange.  Flexibility means being able to come up with creative solutions to challenges at work. If there is no computer, you may be able to help your host organisation purchase one. It may be that you don't really need a computer to do the work - for many, many years people have done and continue to do fantastic work without the aid of computers.

When considering whether or not to bring a computer for your personal use, be aware that your possessions and money are not covered by the insurance provided by AVI during your assignment. You may wish to purchase cover for your possessions while you are in your assignment location. This means that your personal laptop will not be covered by AVI's insurance when you are on assignment.

Can I take my pet with me?

Unfortunately, AVI does not have the capacity to support volunteers with pets on assignment.  As AVI is supporting many hundreds of volunteers in the field, boundaries, and support available, has to be consistent and uniform.

In the case of a medical, political or natural emergency evacuation, volunteers would be required to leave their pets behind. There would be a high risk of suffering to the animal, and additional stress to their owner. In addition, the pets that are left may cause problems for the host community.

The need to care and settle a pet, keep them safe within a developing country environment, and then return them to Australia creates a high risk that volunteers will not be able to focus on their own orientation and could compromise relationship-building with the community and colleagues.   

Volunteers in many locations are unable to find suitable accommodation within their budget that is also suitable for pets, or cause unintended disrespect to their host organisations by bringing a pet into the accommodation that has been provided to them.


Will AVI help me prepare for my assignment?

There is a reciprocal responsiblity between yourself and AVI to research and prepare for your acceptance of an offer and your preparation to succeed in an assignment.   You will receive increasing amounts of information from the time you apply to AVI to the time you begin your assignment. We will send you detailed country notes and reading material, and put you in touch with current and returned AVI volunteers from your country of assignment.  At the same time, we will be expecting you to undertake your own research and in depth exploration of the issues you will face and the strategies you will use to be successful in all aspects of your assignment.

Before you leave Australia you will participate in a comprehensive briefing at AVI, which covers everything from your role in international development, to tips for adjusting in the workplace. You will also receive an orientation with AVI or your host employer in country.

You can prepare by reading as much as you can about your country of assignment, and asking AVI staff, volunteers and your professional networks for information.  You will also need to actively reflect on the professional personal challenges you will face, and prepare strategies and resources that will allow you to integrate you particular skills, attitudes and work practices with another culture.

What First Aid training will I need?

AVID Volunteers are required to have completed first aid training equivalent to the Australian standardised “Apply First Aid” certificate – HLTFA311A, before starting an assignment.   This requirement is part of the responsibility that volunteers are asked to accept, to support them in managing risks to their health and well-being while on assignment.

The cost for attending the training is the responsibility of the volunteer.

A card or certificate of attainment, dated within 3 years of the start date of assignment is required to be lodged with AVI, before an offer of an assignment can be confirmed.

Australian Red Cross and St John Ambulance provide short courses and certificates in a wide range of locations.

  • Australian Red Cross First Aid Training - ph 1300 367 428 or online
  • St John Ambulance First Aid Training - ph 1300 360 455 or online


Is language training provided?

In some countries formal language training is provided as part of the in-country orientation. In some programs there are grants available for further language tuition.  Successful volunteers often start language training prior to taking up their assignments, as even limited use of local languages can greatly increase your integration in the community and work-place.


Are vaccinations included?

All candidates must undergo a medical clearance at their own expense. Once you are selected for an assignment, AVI will pay for a consultation with the Travel Medical and Vaccination Clinic before departure, as well as the costs of recommended vaccinations and anti-malarial medication if required.


Are there AVI staff in country?

AVI has an office in many countries where we work. In other areas, we have partnerships with local organisations to ensure that there is on-the-ground support available to our volunteers if needed. The AVI Country Manager for your country of assignment will be your primary contact, whether they are on the ground or based in Australia. Click here to see a list of current country offices.

You will also get to know the other AVI volunteers in your country of assignment. They will help you settle in and find your way around.


Can I return to Australia if there is a crisis at home?

If you need to return home urgently, it is important to discuss this with both your employer and AVI. Depending on the circumstances, we may be able to cover your travel costs through insurance.


What's involved in applying for an assignment?

The process between applying for an AVI volunteer assignment and departing are quite involved, and includes assessment of your professional and personal competencies through interviews and reference checks, police and medical checks, contact with current and returned volunteers and a three-day pre-departure briefing. Find out more details here.


How long do I go for?

The optimum length of assignments is 24 months so that relationships can be fully developed, skills passed on to the community and exit plans implemented. However, there is flexibility for some assignment sto be shortened, or to be divided into a series of shorter assignments.


How will my work be assessed?

You will have a detailed assignment description with set objectives. When you arrive, you and your employer will  develop a work plan to meet the objectives of the assignment.

AVI will hold regular review sessions with both you and your employer to get feedback on the progress of your assignment and how the benefits from your work can be sustained.


Will I have holidays?

AVI volunteers usually have the same leave allowances as local employees.


What are my responsibilities as an AVI volunteer?

You will be expected to work fairly and cooperatively with your host employer and colleagues. In addition, all AVI volunteers must sign and comply with the AVI Code of Conduct (download pdf (149 KB) or click here to view online) and with AVI's Child Protection Policy.


What happens if I do not complete my assignment?

Each AVI volunteer is part of a country program strategy which has been negotiated with local communities and organisations based on their expressed needs. If you leave before completing your assignment, you will compromise AVI's program, community expectations, and the work of your host organisation.

AVI also incurs substantial costs for every volunteer we place. If you leave before your agreed term, we are not obliged to provide further financial support and you may be liable to refund all expenses. If problems arise, please discuss them with your AVI country manager and your host employer before making any decisions.

We do acknowledge that occasionally assignments do not work out. There can be emergencies or commitments back home, emergencies in country, changes within your partner organisation or the work may simply be completed early. These situations are dealt with on a case by case basis in consultation with your country manager.


How can I stay healthy during my assignment?

Your health is your responsibility when you're on assignment. Depending on where you're living, there may be an increased risk of contracting some illnesses, including tropical diseases.

Your health risks can be minimised by attending thoroughly to your health preparation before you depart, to ensure you are as healthy as possible. This may include vaccination updates, specialist check-ups (eg dental, skin, optical) and routine screening tests.

Taking sensible precaution when you are in-country can also minimise the risk of getting sick. This includes strict basic hygiene, attention to the standard of food and water, mosquito bite prevention, stress management, etc.

Your doctor and travel medicine specialist can give you more information and guidance on how to stay healthy while you are on your AVI assignment.


What happens if I get sick on assignment?

AVI works with an agency that can organise 24-hour medical assistance. All AVI volunteers receive an emergency card prior to departure. Call the number on this card if you get sick, and the agency will organise access to a registered medical practitioner or a hospital if necessary. If the agency considers it necessary, a medical evacuation may be arranged.

In most cases, volunteers will need to pay medical expenses up front, but will recover the costs after submitting a claim form to our insurance providers.


Will I be safe?

There are security issues of some kind in every country. We monitor security very closely at all times through our official and local contacts and are experienced at responding to situations that change rapidly. We will also work with you to develop your own security plan.

Understanding the culture, observing local social behaviours, establishing friendships and seeking advice from the local community will improve your everyday personal security, as will being sensitive and sensible.

We also encourage volunteers to register with the closest Australian Embassy or Consulate once in country and to sign up to receive the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT) travel warning advisories for their country of destination.
EMBASSY & CONSULATE - http://www.dfat.gov.au/missions/
DFAT TRAVEL ADVISORY - http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/


What happens if there is a crisis in country?

AVI will provide you with an in-country emergency contact that will be available at all hours. We will work with you to develop a crisis management plan and organise evacuation if necessary.

Background information on international development and volunteering

Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID)
http://www.australianaidvolunteers.gov.au/

Australian Aid Resource & Training Guide (monthly email newsletter)
http://www.torqaid.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=46&Itemid=59

Networking and jobs within the international development sector

Australian Council for International Development
http://www.acfid.asn.au/

The Development Circle
http://thedevelopmentcircle.com.au/

Aidworkers Network - Your Career in Aid Work
http://www.aidworkers.net/?q=career

Information for health professionals

A guide to working abroad for Australian Medical Students and Junior Doctors
http://www.mja.com.au/public/issues/194_12_200611/working_abroad.html

The Global Health Gateway
http://www.globalhealthgateway.org.au/

Youth and young adult volunteering opportunities

Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development
http://www.ayad.com.au/

Oaktree Foundation
http://theoaktree.org/

Act Now
http://www.actnow.com.au/

Youth Challenge Australia
http://www.youthchallenge.org.au/

The Global Poverty Project
http://www.globalpovertyproject.com/

Shorter-term volunteering

Please note: There are so many organisations and businesses offering short term volunteering options that we are unable to provide guidance on the ethics or safety of any particular program.

Lonely Plant - Responsible volunteering: things to know before you go
http://www.lonelyplanet.com/asia/travel-tips-and-articles/76268#ixzz218DYR33G

Lonely Planet - Volunteer: A Traveller’s Guide to Making a Difference around the World
(Lonely Planet 2007: ISBN 978-1-74179-020-7)

The Lonely Planet forum may be useful in sourcing experiences from other travellers
http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree

Habitat for Humanity
http://www.habitat.org.au/

International Volunteers for Peace from Australia
http://www.ivp.org.au/

Volunteering within Australia

Indigenous Community Volunteers
http://www.icv.com.au/

Volunteering Australia:
http://www.govolunteer.com.au/default.htm