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.
Contact your National Indigenous Alumni Representative team: IndigenousAlumni@australianvolunteers.com.
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."
Contact your ACT Alumni Representative team: ACTAlumni@australianvolunteers.com
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 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 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.”
Contact your NSW team: NSWAlumni@australianvolunteers.com
Rachelle is a NSW Alumni Representative who volunteered in Indonesia in 2009-2010 and 2011-2013, with a Disabled People’s Organisation in Flores. She studied as a Physiotherapist and has completed a Masters in International & Community Development, working both in health and development roles for the past 20 years.
Her volunteer experiences have shaped much of her life both professionally and personally, gaining invaluable skills working diversely, mentors and lifelong friends.
“Australian Volunteers Program has given me so much and I’m excited to stay involved and help others explore how their assignment experience can keep on giving.”
Contact your NT team: NTAlumni@australianvolunteers.com
Lauren has a background in physiotherapy and public health. In 2017-2018 she volunteered as a Community Health Promotion Officer with Viseisei Sai Health Centre in Fiji. Her role in this assignment focused on coordinating a Young Mothers Program to empower young single mothers across Western Fiji. Lauren also volunteered remotely in 2021 as a Public Health Educator with Canvasback Wellness Centre in the Marshall Islands, assisting to develop a mass media campaign on chronic disease prevention. Lauren is based in Darwin and continues to work in the allied health sector.
"I enjoy remaining connected with other volunteers since returning from assignment. It is a great opportunity to share experiences and continue learning about the international development sector."
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 the Practice Manager for the largest counselling organisation in the NT, supporting the local community through counselling, training, mediation and consulting. Running the operations has given Leela the appreciation of what community connectedness involves and the importance of how working together through volunteering increases the health and wellbeing for individuals and the wider community.
"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."
Contact your QLD team: QLDAlumni@australianvolunteers.com
David is a QLD Alumni Representative who volunteered in 2022 working on assignment for a Bali based charity in Indonesia. While many see Bali as a tourist mecca there are regions that experience significant hardships. This is what attracted David to join the Australian Volunteers Program to share and utilise his skills, knowledge and experience learned working previously in the Corporate and Government sector as well as NGO roles in Africa and Asia.
Presently based in Brisbane he shares his time working remotely and non remotely as a company CEO.
Therefore he has experience and an understanding of remote roles that many of our Alumni are doing or have previously completed through Australian Volunteers.
“I would like to share my volunteer experience and build inclusive support for the Australian Volunteer Alumni network not just within Brisbane and the south east corner of QLD, but also in the state’s regional cities and areas where many of our Alumni live and work .”
Contact us at email@example.com if you'd like to be a South Australian representative or you'd like to run an event.
Contact your Tas team: TASAlumni@australianvolunteers.com
Christine is a Tasmanian Alumni Representative who volunteered in the Solomon Islands in 2016 to 2017 at the National Referral Hospital as part of the then Solomon Islands Graduate Intern Supervision and Support Project (SIGISSP), which is now known as Solomon Islands Medical Partnership for Learning Education and Research (SIMPLER). It was her second time in the Solomon Islands, first being in 1997 on a SCUBA diving holiday and hopes it won’t be another 20-year gap between visits.
Christine is originally from Hobart and returned to Tasmania in 2018 having spent several years in Melbourne. She currently works as a program manager in medical research.
“I am looking forward to connecting with and sharing stories with past volunteers, who find themselves in the beautiful state of Tasmania.”
Contact your VIC team: VICAlumni@australianvolunteers.com
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.
Bronwyn Soko began her international volunteer journey in Fiji in 2004. Over the years she has volunteered internationally three times, twice in Fiji and once in Vietnam. Whilst in Fiji, she was part of the Fiji Surfing organisation that hosted two volunteers. Bronwyn appreciated having the opportunity to experience connecting with a diverse range of volunteers, living in multiple countries and supporting a range of assignments. Her time in Fiji saw her grow her family, as this is where she met her husband, Fijian.
For my assignment in Vietnam I was fortunate to be accompanied by my family, this experience has been beneficial, growing with another culture. We have enjoyed travelling with other volunteers we met in Fiji and Vietnam, showing the friendships continue over continents.
Jeannie Zakharov volunteered at the VUFO-NGO Resource Centre in Vietnam’s capital, Hanoi, from 2009 to 2011 (VUFO is the Vietnam Union of Friendship Organisations). The centre serves international non-government organisations working in Vietnam, aiming to facilitate and contribute to the sharing of information, resources and experiences between international NGOs, their partners and local organisations. In the role of Communications Advisor Jeannie promoted the centre’s work through writing reports, website content and other material, including an annual report on the centre’s working groups on development issues. Jeannie was able to apply to her work the skills and knowledge she developed as a newspaper journalist and in roles in the public service and parliamentarians’ offices. Her current role is Communications Lead for a Victorian NGO.
‘Volunteering in Vietnam was a hugely rewarding experience, and my links with my colleagues there continue today. I’ve also enjoyed connecting with like-minded past volunteers at alumni events. As an alumni representative I aim to maintain and nurture the network of past volunteers.’
Contact your WA team: WAAlumni@australianvolunteers.com
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.”
Leigh is an Occupational Therapist who has volunteered with Australian Volunteers Program in a number of countries. Earlier assignments were in Nicaragua and Fiji, with her husband and 3 young children. Most recently, in 2018, she volunteered in Myanmar. Her role in this assignment focused on spending 60% of her time in Myanmar, helping to change society attitudes to people with disabilities.
The remainder of her time was spent in Thailand, working as a ‘technical advisor’ in the refugee camps on the Thai-Myanmar border, training ‘camp-based staff’, who were refugees in the camps, often young in their 20s, who received training to work with people with disabilities within the camps .
Leigh is based in Perth and continues to work as an Occupational Therapist, working as a home visitor supporting families and children with developmental concerns. She also volunteers with the Medical Association for Prevention of War.
"I love sharing my volunteering experiences and hearing stories from other volunteers about where they went, what they did, and how the experience has changed them. I’m especially passionate about the value of volunteering with children.”