Volunteering in South Africa

South Africa is a country of astonishing diversity.

Jess SA
Australian volunteer digitisation project officer Jessica Pietsch with her colleagues at the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Johannesburg.
Joburg buildings SA
Central Johannesburg, South Africa.
James and MAtt SA
James Hamlet (left), Australian volunteer resource mobilisation officer at the Triangle Project, Cape Town, with colleague Matthew Clayton.
Cape Town SA
Table Mountain, Cape Town.
Lowri SA
Lowri Williams (far right), Australian volunteer at the QuadPara Association of the Western Cape with Anthony Ghillino, General Manager.
Joburg2 SA
Johannesburg, South Africa.
Louise SA
Louise Bearman, Australian volunteer quality assurance and project coordinator with the Cape Town Child Welfare Society, South Africa.

Geographically, South Africa is bordered by the stunning coastlines of two oceans. It's a land of fertile plains, jagged mountains, and parched deserts. Culturally, the country is known as the 'Rainbow Nation' — a reference to the broad spectrum of ethnic groups and its multicultural diversity. Linguistically, South Africa recognises 11 different official languages.

Since the end of apartheid in 1994, South Africa has undergone a democratic transition and become a prominent advocate of human rights on the African continent. In addition, it has grown to become Africa’s second-largest economy.

Poverty and inequality are key development challenges for South Africa. Despite rising GDP, South Africa’s income distribution pattern is amongst the most unequal in the world. Around half of South Africans live below the national poverty line of less than US$50 a month and only a small percentage of the population earn over US$50,000 a year. Poverty is primarily experienced by the country’s black population.

South Africa faces other significant development challenges, particularly in the health sector, with a low average life expectancy and one of the world’s highest rates of HIV/AIDS.

The Australian Volunteers Program is guided by the Australian Government’s Aid Investment Plan for South Africa, and volunteer assignments focus on a range of development issues, including:

  • gender equality and women’s empowerment
  • violence against women and girls
  • education (including science)
  • youth
  • good governance
  • working with people with disabilities
  • human rights (including for LGBTQI+)
  • environmental management
  • strengthening institutions that promote stability, democracy and the rule of law

Geographically, there is a focus on developing new opportunities for volunteering assignments in the Gauteng, Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and Eastern Cape provinces.