Meet the Alumni Representative team

Alumni Representatives voluntarily lead networking events across Australia, support program advocacy and help to engage past volunteers in Alumni and program activities

Choose your state or territory below to learn more about your local Alumni Representative.

National Indigenous Alumni Representative
Australian Capital Territory
New South Wales
Northern Territory
Queensland
South Australia
Tasmania
Victoria
Western Australia 


National Indigenous Alumni Representative

Contact your National Indigenous Alumni Representative team: IndigenousAlumni@australianvolunteers.com.

Dimity Shillingsworth

Dimity

Dimity is an Aboriginal woman from South East Queensland and the first National Indigenous Alumni Representative. Dimity first volunteered with the Classic Wallabies Indigenous Exchange in South Africa in 2018 and returned as a Team Leader in 2019. The program built sustainable vegetable gardens in local schools in one of South Africa’s most disadvantaged areas, with support and guidance from the local Indigenous community.

After returning from South Africa, Dimity relocated to the Kimberley region in Western Australia to work with remote Aboriginal communities, advocating for Indigenous youth and climate change. Dimity has a strong focus on working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people that are placed in out-of-home care to ensure they are connected to community, country and family, and have a strong sense of identity and belonging.

"My favorite quote is an African proverb - It takes a village to raise a child. I believe in the importance of community, connection, strong sense of identity and belonging. Community has been the focus of my volunteering work and my current work with remote Aboriginal youth in Western Australia."


Australian Capital Territory

Contact your ACT Alumni Representative team: ACTAlumni@australianvolunteers.com

James Cornwell

James

James is an ACT Alumni Representative who volunteered in Laos from 2013 to 2015. During his assignment he assisted with curriculum development at the National University of Laos, Vientiane.

James greatly values his international volunteering experience and remains in regular contact with his Lao colleagues and many fellow returned volunteers.

"I am looking forward to contributing to the Alumni program in ACT and see the network as a valuable way for returned volunteers to share experiences and stay inspired about volunteering." 

Karen Macdonald

Karen

Karen is a Canberra-based Alumni Representative who has volunteered with arts-based organisations across Indonesia since 2009. Her first volunteer assignment was at a textile foundation working to improve the livelihoods of women artisans across Eastern Indonesia. This was the catalyst for changing her career when she returned to Australia.

After completing a master’s degree in museums, curatorship and art history at ANU, Karen returned to Indonesia in 2014 to volunteer for a provincial museum in Central Kalimantan.

Her most recent assignment was in a craft conservation program working with women artisans in remote communities in East and North Kalimantan. Some highlights were developing promotional strategies for Indigenous fibre craft, collaborating on making a film (Arts from the Borneo Rainforest), and authoring a product catalogue, brochures and journal articles to promote the program.

"I see volunteering as a path to cross-cultural understanding and a significant part of Australia’s aid program. I value being around like-minded returned volunteer."

John Lalor

John

John was a former senior executive with the Department of Finance, and had spent over twenty years in senior management roles over many diverse program and policy areas.  He retired from the public service in 2007 to work as a consultant/contract and dedicate his time to volunteering in South East Asia.  He has undertaken many specialist volunteer assignments over the past decade.

John has always welcomed the opportunity to work with organisations to build their capability, grow and prepare for the future. His particularly interest is working with NGOs and social enterprises to plan head and operate in a continuously disrupted world.

During the COVID period he has undertaken two remote volunteer assignments in Cambodia and Vietnam and is currently on remote assignment in Vietnam.  His current assignment is with a fledgling social enterprise, Hopebox, that works with survivors of gender-based violence. From his experience John considers that in-country and remote assignments are valuable to organisations in their development and personally rewarding for the volunteers.

“I’ve maintained an ongoing network through my volunteer assignments and made many long-term friendships.” 

Simon Baker

Simon

Simon was a volunteer in Thailand from 1989 to 1991 and then in Cambodia in 1992, teaching English and training teachers to do so. Simon returned to Australia to gain new academic qualifications. After completing a PhD, he returned to Thailand to undertake research throughout South East Asia and beyond on human trafficking, HIV and development issues. In 2021, after 25 years in Thailand, Simon returned to Canberra and keen to reconnect with all past volunteers as an ACT Alumni Representative.

“I wish to give back to the program by working with fellow volunteers while still maintaining links beyond our shores.”

Laura Fitzhenry 

Laura

Laura is an ACT Alumni Representative who volunteered in South Africa in 2017 to 2018, with the Sexual Violence Research Initiative (SVRI). SVRI supports research on violence against women and children lead by researchers in low and middle-income countries through grant funding, building capacity and disseminating knowledge to inform practice.

She is passionate about advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment. After completing her volunteer assignment, Laura returned to Australia where she continued working on family, domestic and sexual violence in a national policy context.

Laura valued her international volunteering experience and enjoyed learning about South Africa’s rich and diverse cultures.

"I am excited to play a role in bringing together past volunteers in Canberra and growing the network.”


New South Wales

Contact your NSW team: NSWAlumni@australianvolunteers.com

Carina Bekkers

Carina

After a career in human resources in Australia and abroad, Carina became a social entrepreneur in fair trade in 2010, and an active participant in this movement through trading, event management and consultancy. She is a lifelong learner with a focus on enriching her own life as well as that of others.

Carina’s recent volunteer assignment was with a social enterprise in East Timor as a marketing and business development manager. Carina has a Graduate Diploma in Human Resources and is currently studying a Masters in Business Analytics.

"I believe that access to knowledge is one of the biggest barriers for capacity development. By sharing what I know and creating images, scenarios or dreams of potentials, I hope to spark progress, however big or small, or even with just one person, as you never know where they may lead others."

Rona Puntawe

Rona Puntawe NSW RAVN Rep

Rona is passionate about transformation with a passion for empowering immigrants like herself. She volunteered in 2015 with the Center for Migrant Advocacy (CMA) in the Philippines. The CMA advocate for rights and improved conditions for Filipino overseas workers, immigrants and their families. 

Rona’s work helped strengthen CMA’s advocacy, that touches 215 partner institutions across 52 countries including government, media, local and international civil society organisations and multilateral agencies.

In 2016, CMA re-engaged Rona as an independent consultant for a Performance Management and Evaluation project to improve the quality of services provided by the government to Filipino overseas workers.

"Life is richer, more rewarding and meaningful when we use our fullest potential in service of the greater good – and being a volunteer gives that opportunity. I am excited with the opportunity to help enrich, enjoy and strengthen Alumni connections as an Alumni Representative for NSW."


Northern Territory

Contact your NT team: NTAlumni@australianvolunteers.com

Emily Evans

Emily

Emily is a Darwin-based Alumni Representative for the Northern Territory. Emily volunteered for a year and half in Timor-Leste in 2014-15 as a community development officer at Empreza Diak and nine months as an organisation mentor (monitoring and evaluation) at Restless Development Tanzania in 2017.

While on assignment, Emily worked alongside colleagues to develop capacity in project management, and to strengthen the ways both organisations told the story of the impact of their work. She was able to gain a greater appreciation of the need to take time to develop genuine relationships before any changes can be made.

"Developing the capacity of my local counterparts meant that they had the capacity to further show leadership within the organisation and within their community. The experience I had volunteering in Timor-Leste and Tanzania has had a lasting impression on me. The relationships developed, the experiences both at work and living in country, will further influence my approach to the work and other experiences that I have."

Leela Galvez

Leela

Leela spent five months volunteering in the Philippines from 2019 - 2020. With a passion for the environment, Leela volunteered as a sustainable tourism officer at the Provincial Government in Negros Occidental. There she supported staff and mentored stakeholders in the tourism industry, creating awareness and providing opportunities to implement sustainable ways of showcasing their beautiful area.

Leela is now working as a placement consultant for an employment services provider, helping disadvantaged customers gain skills through training and sustainable employment opportunities, while providing a supportive network to manage their personal challenges.

"Connectedness through shared experiences is an important way to feel supported and empowered. Being part of the Alumni Representative team for the Northern Territory is an opportunity to positively contribute to enriching and growing the network."


Queensland

Contact your QLD team: QLDAlumni@australianvolunteers.com

Felipe Agudelo

Felipe

Felipe is a Gold Coast based Alumni representative. He volunteered in Laos’ capital Vientiane from 2016 until 2018. First as Information Management & Communications Officer at a government fisheries research centre, and then moved to support two disability focused organisations as Finance and Human Resources Advisor.

Felipe’s passion on processes and people development gave him the opportunity work with different staff to develop understanding of the importance of strong HR processes and make significant improvements in his partner organisation’s information management system.

"As a Human Resources professional, I was able to contribute to the understanding of good processes and empower staff to self-develop and strive for a better future. The Australian Volunteer Program is an amazing initiative that increases our understanding of our Asian neighbours and should be promoted and showcased more widely. Our people-to-people connections with the Asia-Pacific is a critical aspect for the prosperity of all people in the region."

Rebekah Lamb

Rebekah

Rebekah volunteered in Kiribati in 2018 at the Ministry of Health's National Tuberculosis Program.

With a background in public health and communicable disease, Rebekah supported the program through building capacity to generate advocacy and awareness of TB across the country.

Whilst on assignment, Rebekah started teaching dance classes for all community members to bring people together and connect in a fun environment! Her volunteering experience further drove her passion for helping those marginalised groups that have the biggest burden of health inequalities.

Previously an Alumni Representative for Northern Territory, Rebekah recently moved and now volunteering as an Alumni Representative for Queensland.

“ I am looking forward to supporting my fellow returned volunteers as the QLD Alumni Representative and staying connected to the international development sector.”


South Australia

Contact your SA team: SAAlumni@australianvolunteers.com 

Anh Pham

Anh

Anh took the opportunity of the remote volunteering offered by the Australian Volunteers Program in 2020. She participated in an online training workshop that was a collaboration between the Vietnam University of Agriculture (VNUA) and Researchers in Agriculture for International Development (RAID). This workshop was converted to a virtual format due to the impact of COVID-19.

Anh took a role as a coordinator and she assisted the workshop organisers in delivering lectures, promote discussions and understanding among the workshop participants.

"I remember one saying that when you help empower others, you also empower yourself, and that’s so true for me. Not only my volunteering experience rewarded me with a feeling of fulfilment and blissfulness, it enabled me to learn new knowledge and skills. In being an Alumni Representative, I hope to meet with like-minded colleagues and to create a fun, trusting and supporting environment for us to thrive and learn more from each other."


Tasmania

Contact us at ravn@australianvolunteers.com if you'd like to be a Tasmania representative or you'd like to run an event. 


Victoria

Contact your VIC team: VICAlumni@australianvolunteers.com

Nadera Rahmani

nadeera

Nadera volunteered at Asia Injury Prevention (AIP) Foundation in Hanoi, Vietnam in 2019 and was repatriated in early 2020. Her role as a Program Management Adviser focused on supporting program management and road safety campaigns across the AIP Foundation’s four country sites to enhance program workflow and efficiency across all sites. As part of her role, Nadera developed project management guidelines, delivered staff training and redesigned the organisation's online project management and information sharing platform, Podio, to enhance staff communication and consistency in program management.

Since returning from her assignment in Vietnam, Nadera is working as a Senior Planning Officer at the Victorian Department of Health where she regularly engages with the healthcare sector and practices her program management and planning skills to improve quality, safety and accessibility of healthcare to all Victorians. 


Western Australia

Contact your WA team: WAAlumni@australianvolunteers.com

Anna Lichtenberg

Anna

Anna volunteered in Baucau, Timor-Leste in country in 2018, and online in 2019, at the Instituto Catolico Para a Formacao de Professores (ICFP). ICFP is a Christian Brothers teacher education college that provides a three-year teacher training program for approximately 90 students. A fourth year of study is offered to up to 15 top students. Anna returned to Baucau for three weeks in 2019 to complete an evaluation of a pilot capacity building project.

In earlier years Anna lectured in teacher education and career development for over 30 years at Edith Cowan, Curtin, Notre Dame and Victoria Universities. Anna has been actively involved in promoting a unified national presence and stronger international professional links for career education professions. These networks have been enhanced through events, such as international conferences, workshops and liaison with international committee members.

“I am looking forward to build and maintain connection between past volunteers in Western Australia through different events and activities.”