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 five years, the program aims to:
- Support our partners across 26 countries to achieve their own development goals
- Promote professional and personal growth in our volunteers
- Increase the appreciation of the value of volunteering
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.
Our guiding principles are fundamental to delivering our Global Program Strategy and inform how we work.
- We value international volunteering as a critical approach to capacity development. We value volunteers who are committed to sustainable development and representing Australia with integrity.
- We support locally-led capacity development because effective development is achieved when local communities, organisations and governments drive and own the solutions.
- Our volunteers build links and diverse partnerships with individuals, communities and organisations, strengthening Australia’s relationships across our region and globally.
- We evolve best practice and embrace innovation through professional, reflective and responsive management. We are committed to continuing to test and pilot new ideas.
- 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 ensure accountability and value learning. Reflection and learning is promoted across all partners to ensure the program delivers on its development objectives.
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.
The Australian Volunteers Program is framed by and contributes to Australia’s Aid Policy, Partnerships for Recovery: Australia’s COVID-19 Development Response 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.
In 2020, DFAT commissioned an independent evaluation of the Australian Volunteers Program. The evaluation report contains valuable findings on the program’s performance to date, as well as recommendations on how the program can continue to deliver results within an evolving global context. The evaluation report (April 2021) and DFAT's management response are available on DFAT's website.
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 16,000 Australian volunteers have responded to the needs and development challenges in our region.
Australian volunteer Glenys Davies volunteered as a physiotherapist in Papua New Guinea in 1963, and again in Lebanon in 2012.
Glenys PNG Lebanon