About the program

The Australian Volunteers Program matches skilled Australians with partner organisations across the Pacific, Asia, and Africa to support them to achieve their own development goals.

A man and a woman stand in front of a map of an island, mid-conversation. Writing in Vietnamese is above the map. One person is wearing an Australian Volunteer shirt.

About the program

The Australian Volunteers Program is an Australian Government-funded initiative that supports global volunteering. We support partner organisations across the Pacific, Asia and Africa to achieve locally-led change and the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The program fosters strong, mutual relationships between Australia and communities globally to contribute to achieving equitable development outcomes.

We aim to

  • Support partner organisations to progress their development objectives
  • Increase key stakeholders’ appreciation of the value of volunteering
  • Increase program participants’ cultural awareness and build stronger connections across countries

What we do

The Australian Volunteers Program supports global volunteering as a people-centred approach to capacity development. 

Our initiatives include:

Our principles

Our guiding principles are fundamental to delivering our program and inform how we work.

  • We support locally-led change. We recognise that capacity strengthening is a long-term, complex process that must be locally-owned. We support partners to progress their own locally determined objectives.
  • We grow strong relationships and partnerships. Establishing long-term, respectful and equitable partnerships between individuals, communities and organisations is central to our approach. The program is committed to facilitating partnerships that support locally determined priorities and strengthen relationships across our region and globally. 
  • We value international volunteering as a valuable approach to international development cooperation. We value volunteers who are open to mutual learning and skills exchange, and who are committed to contributing to partners’ priorities in support of locally-led change.
  • We evolve best practice and embrace innovation through professional, reflective, responsive and adaptive management. The program experiments to find better ways to connect ideas and people and  embraces new ideas that are contextually relevant.
  • We enhance diversity and inclusion, taking a strength and rights-based approach to ensure the program is inclusive and accessible to a broad range of skilled Australians and organisations. We are committed to expanding and strengthening Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander participation in volunteering. The program prioritises gender equality and women’s rights, and disability inclusion as essential for achieving equitable development outcomes.
  • We ensure accountability and value learning. We are committed to operational and programmatic excellence, through continuous improvement in our ability to document, analyse and measure results.  We are committed to knowledge exchange with stakeholders and partners to support improved practices.

Our approach

Our work is underpinned by a rigorous approach and we strive for best practice in everything we do. Learn more about our work in the following areas.

Policy framework

Our Global Program Strategy outlines our strategic direction, policy context, guiding principles and priorities for the program. The strategy informs program plans, partnerships and volunteer assignments.

The Australian Volunteers Program is framed by and contributes to the Australian Government's development policy and the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

The program is managed by AVI in a consortium with DT Global and Alinea International, and is part of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s (DFAT) people-to-people program portfolio. In 2020, DFAT commissioned an independent evaluation of the program, which included valuable findings on the program’s performance and recommendations on how it can be delivered in an evolving global context.

Our history

International volunteering has a long history in Australia, originating in the 1950s as a means of fostering cultural understanding between Australian and Indonesian students. Australian Government support for international volunteering began in 1963.

While there have been many Australian Government-funded volunteer programs since then, including Australian Volunteers Abroad, Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development and Australian Volunteers for International Development, the Government’s commitment to volunteering as a powerful approach to capacity development has remained consistent.

Through international volunteering, more than 17,000 Australian volunteers have responded to development challenges in our region.

Stay up to date on the latest volunteer assignments.

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