Our program

For more than 60 years the Australian Government has supported thousands of skilled Australians to volunteer in developing countries.

The Australian Volunteers Program

The Australian Volunteers Program matches a broad range of skilled Australians with partner organisations in the Indo-Pacific region, to support them to achieve their own development goals.

Over the next five years, the program aims to:

  • Support our partners to achieve their own development goals
  • Promote professional and personal growth in our volunteers
  • Increase the appreciation of the value of volunteering in Australia and overseas
The Australian Volunteers Program is framed by and contributes to Australia’s Aid Policy and Foreign Policy White Paper, and the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The program is delivered to reflect Australia’s membership on the Human Rights Council.

The program is part of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s (DFAT) people-to-people program portfolio, connecting Australians to Australia’s aid program and the Indo-Pacific region.

The program is managed by AVI in a consortium with Cardno and the Whitelum Group.

The program at a glance

Infographic stats: Total budget, $190million. Number of Australians volunteering over five years, 5000. Number of countries participating, 26. Partner organisations to the program, 700.

Where we operate




Federated States of Micronesia










Papua New Guinea


Republic of The Marshall Islands


Solomon Islands

South Africa

Sri Lanka







How Australia benefits

The Australian Volunteers Program benefits Australia in many ways, including:

  • Australian volunteers help to deepen and strengthen Australia’s relationship with our neighbours in the Indo-Pacific region.
  • Volunteers bring a deep cultural understanding back to Australia to share with communities at home.
  • By supporting sustainable development, the program contributes to economic growth and stability in our region.

Our impact

The Australian Volunteers Program aims to enhance the impact of Australian Aid.

Three impact areas act as lenses to our efforts, demonstrating policy alignment with Australian Government priorities.

Our key impact areas are:

  • Inclusive economic growth, addressing inequalities through good governance, women’s economic participation, youth engagement and working with partner governments.
  • Promoting and protecting human rights by strengthening the international rules-based system.
  • Increasing the number of volunteer assignments that focus on climate change, disaster resilience and food security.  


Australian volunteer Glenys Davies in PNG
Australian volunteer Glenys Davies in Papua New Guinea in the 1960s as a physiotherapist…
Australian volunteer Glenys in Lebanon
…and again in Lebanon in 2012.

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 15,000 Australian volunteers have responded to the needs and development challenges in our region.


Our Approach  >