Steps to becoming a volunteer
The steps described below apply in general and may vary depending upon circumstances. The process requires approximately five months for a successful applicant to complete - allowing volunteers adequate time to prepare for a life-changing experience. Read about the timeframes below. Each step is explained in full detail.
Creation of Assignment
- Volunteer assignments are developed in country by AVI's Country Manager in consultation with Host Organisations who have requested a Volunteer;
- Assignments are driven by local needs and aligned with AVI's development approach, country program focus areas and the Host Country and and Australian Government development priorities;
- Assignment descriptions include the volunteer responsibilities, selection criteria, and expected length of assignment and start date.
- All assignments are designed to be carried out by individuals who are able to consistently demonstrate their commitment to the AVI Volunteer Personal Competencies.
Applying as a couple or as a family? 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.
- Assignments are advertised on a quarterly basis to the public and posted on AVI's website and the partnership website of the Australian Volunteers for International Development program;
- Urgent or hard to fill assignments may be advertised between the quarterly advertising periods;
- Assignments are usually advertised for a period of three weeks;
- Promotions of volunteering opportunities occur across occupational sectors, industry / professional association, and networks.
- Register as a member on the AVI website and request to be automatically e-mailed when new jobs are available;
- Review advertised assignments and identify those that are a match for your interest and skills; Search assignments or see the full list
- Read the advertisment for the assignment, and download and read the attached Assignment (Position) Description. The Assignment Description is a detailed overview of the assignment, the selection criteria and the application process;
- Additional country specific information is available under Where We Work
View the dates of the next recruitment round.
- AVI conducts Information Sessions in most capital cities throughout Australia on a quarterly basis;
- Information sessions are opportunities to learn about AVI programs, meet staff and returned volunteers, and ask questions;
- Pre-register on the AVI website to attend.
- Application Support and Enquiries
If you are interested in applying to become a volunteer, AVI Recruitment Consultants will work with you to provide context and information for self-assessment and research, guidance on the formal assessment and clearance steps, and opportunities for learning and networking to prepare for a successful assignment. You can contact and discuss your interest with a Recruitment Consultant at any time:
Toll Free: 1800 331 292
- Assignment Information, Selection Criteria and Recruitment Steps
Candidates for Australian Volunteers assignments are selected based on their likelihood to successfully meet the objectives of the assignment, in the context, culture and location of the host organisation and community.
Each assignment available for application will have a detailed Assignment Description available to down-load from the Advertisement page on the AVI web-site. We recommend that you research further relevant information from links and guidance within the assignment description, and through your own networks and information sources.
Full details of selection criteria used for assessing likelihood of success are included in each Volunteer Assignment Description, and in what we look for
The first step is a written application.
We use the application information to assess if there is a sufficient match between the requirements of the host organisation and the applicant's skills, experience, qualifications and understanding of the unique role of an Australian Volunteer. If there are many applications that are sufficiently matched, we will rank the applications, and progress to screening and interview those candidates who have demonstrated the closest match.
The decision to undertake an assignment with Australian Volunteers International entails making a substantial commitment both in terms of the significant period of time that you are prepared to be separated from your family, friends and familiar surroundings as well as a willingness to accept the challenges that living, working and learning in a demanding cross-cultural environment involves.
The making of such a decision therefore needs to be done in a considered and reflective way. We suggest that it should be based not only on a desire to 'give something back' or 'to make a difference' for example, but also on a realistic assessment as to whether the timing is actually right, for you, reflecting on what you anticipate gaining from the volunteering experience and what personal attributes you feel would be required to ensure that such an experience was a satisfying and effective one for yourself and for the host organisation and host community.
1. Response to Selection Criteria: Please begin by writing your responses to the following three questions, in a document headed - Response to Selection Criteria:
a. Why do I feel that volunteering overseas is the right thing for me to doing at this time in my life? (up to half a page)
b. What are the biggest personal adjustments I’m likely to have to make to be accepted as a useful colleague and engaged community member in this assignment? (up to half a page)
c. How do I meet the Essential Skills & Experience: Write a brief summary of your most relevant experiences, results and achievements against each criteria in the Essential Skills & Experience section of the Assignment Description.
* Use examples, particularly those that you think would be the most relevant to the assignment objectives, the duties, the host organisation context and the AVI personal competencies – the unique skills necessary for successful volunteering.
* Do not respond to the other Selection Criteria sections in the Assignment Description – Qualifications, Desirable Skills & Experience or Essential Personal Qualities – these areas will be covered during interviews and reference checks.
2. Resume: Prepare a comprehensive and up-to-date Resume which includes the key dates of your professional history.
Log in or Register on the AVI Web-site.
Open the Advertisement page of the assignment.
Click on the Apply Now link at the bottom of the page. This link will only appear if you are logged in.
In the Apply for Job section at the bottom of the page, complete the following sections:
Citizenship: Please tick the box to confirm you are a citizen or permanent resident of Australia.
Primary skill / expertise area: Tell us about your background by selecting the closest matching area that matches your skills background. Move through the selectors from top to bottom, starting with Sector, followed by Group, and then Title. If the role title doesn’t match your skills area perfectly, choose the closest match.
Upload your two pre-prepared documents: Response to Selection Criteria and Resume
You will receive an automatic email acknowledgement of your application. Please contact the Recruitment team if you do NOT receive this email or if you have any difficulties.
- Response to your application
You will receive advice on the progress of your application within three weeks from the Close of Applications date. Please contact the Recruitment team if you do NOT receive advice.
Shortlisting and Telephone Screening
- At the close of application date, applicants are shortlisted for interviews based on their match to the selection criteria;
- Prior to interview, the Recruitment Consultant calls applicants to establish basic parameters, including: availability, commitment, relationships, motivation for applying, financial obligations, and availability to commence on the expected start date;
- Applicant is advised to review the following documents before first interview:
- Unsuccessful candidates are informed and / or alternative options are discussed within three weeks.
- A structured, behavioral interview is conducted by telephone or face to face with a Recruitment Consultant for approximately 90 minutes;
- Interview focuses on the professional requirements of the role, and work history;
- Questions of a job and country specific nature, as well as commitment to volunteering are discussed;
- Opportunity for questions from applicant;
- Applicant is asked to forward certified copies of relevant qualifications;
- One or more best matched candidate/s is/are generally selected after the first interview.
- Applicant is asked to provide names and contact details of relevant and appropriate referees - at a minimum this will be two professional and one personal;
- Following the first interview, the applicant is asked to carry out in-depth research to ensure they are fully aware of the issues, risks and challenges they will face in living, working & learning as a volunteer in the assignment. Applicants will need to gain a broad understanding of volunteering, the host organisation, the location and the country.
- AVI will provide Country and Security Notes, as a foundation on which the applicant will need to build
- Contact details of relevant current and returned volunteers may also be provided for the final stage of research, particularly to explore strategies for planning for and meeting challenges.
- Applicants will need clearance that their general health, mental health, dental health and vaccination protection are at a satisfactory level to successfully carry out the assignment for which they have applied.
- AVI will assist applicants in undertaking assessments for the clearances for general health, mental health and vaccination protection through specialised health care providers contracted by AVI. The costs of these assessment are covered by the funding avaialable to AVI.
- Applicants will need to arrange for a dental health clearance, using guidelines provided by AVI. Costs for the dental health assessment, and any required treatments will be the responsibility of the applicant.
- Applicants who do not receive one of more of these health clearances are not able to be offered a Volunteer Assignment or Approved Accompanying Dependent status.
- Applicants who have pre-existing or non-stable health conditions, may be assessed as eligible for a clearance, if they prepare a Health Management Plan/s with their treating health professional. Health Management Plans will be lodged with and approved by AVI's specialised health care providers. Applicants will have responsibility to self-fund any and all costs related to implementing the Health Management Plan/s in preparing for and during service as a Volunteer.
- AVI sends appropriate police clearance consent forms to applicants to review, sign, and return to AVI within two weeks. This enables AVI to request a search of Australian Federal Police database, which includes a Working with Children check.
- Applicants who have lived in a country/countries outside of Australia for 12 months or more in the last ten (10) years will need to arrange appropriate Police Clearance, or similar certification, for these time periods.
- AVI clears applicant based on the information provided in the Australian Federal Police certificate and/or international police clearance/s.
- Previous convictions are discussed with applicants, and included in the overall assesment of the suitability of a candidate.
- Some types of convictions may prevent the applicant from receiving appropriate visas or permits to work in the assignment for which they have applied. In these cases, the applicant will not be able to be offered the Volunteer Assignment or Approved Accompanying Dependent Status.
First Aid Training
- 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
- This interview is usually face to face or by on-line video link with an AVI Recruitment Consultant;
- The purpose of the second interview is to assess the personal competencies required of a successful volunteer, as well as discuss commitment, child protection awareness, and relationship issues;
- Any other issues that need further exploration are discussed;
- The applicant will also need to demonstrate their informed knowledge of the risks and constraints for which they are taking responsibility as a Volunteer, based on the research that they have undertaken;
- Applicant is asked to clarify commitment to continuing with application and overseas placement.
- Recruitment Consultant seeks permission from applicant to contact referees;
- Recruitment Consultant conducts verbal reference checks. If this is not possible, a written reference report is requested.
- A conditional offer is made and the applicant is given a few days, if required, to reflect and respond;
- Offer is conditional upon
- Certificate, card or other statement of attainment: Apply First Aid (HLTFA311A), or equivalent, dated within three (3) years of start of assignment,
- satisfactory health and police clearances,
- satisfactory participation in pre-departure briefing, and
- confirmation of acceptance of nomination by the Host Organisation.
Information from AVI
- AVI forwards information to the applicant within one week after acceptance of the conditional offer. This information contains the visa application and administrative forms;
- If appropriate, contact with the Country Manager or overseas employer is facilitated by AVI.
Visa and Administrative Requirements
- Within two weeks of acceptance of offer, the AVI mobilisation team contacts the applicant to confirm requirements for departure;
- Applicant returns to AVI the required documentation relating to visa application and other administrative requirements including emergency contact details, passport details, signed Code of Conduct (download pdf (149 KB) or click here to view online), financial details, etc;
- AVI pays for a travel preparation consultation with Travel Doctor and vaccinations required for the country of assignment.
Host Organisation Acceptance of Nomination
- Once the applicant has accepted the Conditional Offer of the Assignment, the Host Organisation will be consulted and the application nominated to them in response to their request for a volunteer. The Host Organisation is asked to make a formal confirmation of their acceptance of the nomination
- Satisfactory completion of a pre-departure briefing, usually three days in Melbourne, Australia, is required for all applicants;
- Satisfactory completion includes application of pre-reading and research during the sessions, engaged attendance at all sessions, and the consistent demonstration of the personal competencies required of a successful volunteer;
- Within three weeks of acceptance of a conditional offer, the Learning & Development team contacts the applicant regarding briefing arrangements and sends out information, including pre-reading.
- Briefing is based on adult learning principles relating to the country and culture of assignment, international aid and development issues, personal safety and health, and general volunteering matters;
- Briefing also provides opportunities to meet with assignment country nationals and returned volunteers
Confirmation of Offer and Notice Period
- The offer of the assignment will be confirmed in writing, after:
- Satisfactory completion of pre-departure briefing
- Acceptance of Nomination of the Volunteer by the Host Organisation
- All Health Clearances, with any relevant approved Health Management Plans
- All Police Clearances
- Agreement to the Volunteer Code of Conduct
- Applicants should not make any irreversible or life-changing decisions until they receive the Confirmation of Offer Letter.
- AVI aims to provide at leaast 4 weeks notice from Confirmation of Offer to Departure
- If applicants require more than 4 weeks to prepare for departure, they are asked to consult with their Recruitment Consultant early in the application process, on alternative time-frames or start-dates.
- Each country has up to four (4) arrival dates each year - the Recruitment Consultant will be able to advise applicants of the planned dates, and consult on which date may be the most appropriate for the successful applicant.
- Volunteers arrive as a group and are met by the Country Office staff
- Volunteers then participate in an In-Country Orientation, Security Briefing and cultural and language preparation
- Volunteers will be introduced to their Host Organisation by the Country Office staff, and assistance with any housing or local orientation will be shared between the Country Office and the Host Organisation
- AVI will organise travel from the Volunteer's nominated residence in Australia to the In-Country Orientation location, and then to the Host Organisation.
- Volunteers who would like to make early or alternative travel plans will need to make their own bookings. There is a Mobilisation policy that guides reimbursement of travel arrangements.
- The Country Office will send the Volunteer arrival arrangement details, including information about the In-Country Orientation, a few weeks before departure.
- AVI Mobilisation will provide Volunteers a Payment Schedule, and deposit the first tranche of alllowances, including funds for agreed travel related expenses, a few days prior to departure.
- AVI Mobilisation will send the Volunteer an itinerary and/or e-tickets, and emergency travel contacts.
These timeframes are general guidelines to assist applicants, AVI and Host Organisations plan realistically. Once an assignment is advertised on AVI's website, 20 - 22 weeks are generally required before the successful applicant departs to undertake the volunteer assignment.
Advertisement: Assignments are advertised in quarterly cycles. They will be open for applications for two to three weeks on AVI's website.
Notice of Progress: Applicants will be advised within 3 weeks of the close of applications date, if their application is progressing or not progressing.
The assessment and research process: Successful applicants will receive a Conditional offer approximately eight (8) weeks after the close of application date. In some cases, it may take longer for the applicant to undertake personal research and reflection and for the interview and reference checks to be finalised.
Confirmation of Offer: Successful applicants will receive a Confirmation of Offer approximately 1 week after their attendance at Pre-departure Briefing, if the Employer has Accepted the Nomination, and all Clearances have been obtained. AVI advises candidates not to take any irrevocable actions (e.g. resign from work, sell the car, find homes for pets, etc.) until they receive the Confirmation of Offer.
In some countries, additional time and flexibility may be required for finalisations of visas or other types of entry permits. This is particularly so for China, Vietnam, Papua New Guinea and some African countries. Your Recruitment Consultant and Mobilisation Officer will advise you of any particular timing issues around this.