Embracing innovation

We're committed to discovering and testing new ways of working, and scaling up successful innovations, to multiply our program's impact.

Innovation Fund

The Australian Volunteers Program invests in innovation through a dedicated Innovation Fund that identifies, develops and pilots new ideas and solutions to increase the impact of the program.

The Fund actively explores opportunities for strengthening the program's foundations, while also preparing for the future to discover what might be next for volunteering. 

How we work

The Fund engages current and returned volunteers, program staff, Australian and international partner organisations, and innovation experts to guide, inspire, refine and deliver a broad range of innovation activities.

  • Innovation Pathways Group: a group of senior program managers and DFAT representatives who establish the direction of the Fund and makes decisions as to which projects are worthy of investment. 
  • Innovation Associates: ten volunteers and six program staff from across Asia, Africa, and the Pacific who are selected and trained to gather ideas and information, and act as the eyes, ears, and hands of the Innovation Fund. Read more about Innovation Associates.
  • The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI): an independent social enterprise that has been engaged by the program to assist with the design of the Innovation Fund and the delivery of selected activities.

Preparing for the future

What does the future of volunteering look like? What role does volunteering have to play in what's next for international development? How can volunteering transform the world around us? To answer these questions and more, the Innovation Fund is running a series of activities that will inform the future of the program while also building on what is happening right now. 

Speculative Futures

Imagine if you could read a news report from the year 2050? What would this glimpse into the future tell us about what's next for international volunteering? 

Speculative Futures is an opportunity for our wide network of partners, volunteers, and friends of the program to help us imagine what volunteering might look like in the future. The project consists of:

  • Asia-Pacific News 2050: a digital artefact that delivers news from the future. The artefact is embedded with clues based on the hunches and speculations of experts in the field that have been dramatised and extended to stimulate and inspire you.
  • Interactive activities portal: a website-playground where you can imagine and speculate on the future through a series of fun and interactive activities. There are no wrong answers…only fascinating ideas that will help inform critical decisions and key areas of impact for the Australian Volunteering Program over the next 5 years. 

Dive into the future and be inspired by what volunteering could become - submit your speculations by 20 November 2020.

Social Innovation and Development online course and podcast

Current, repatriated and returned volunteers are invited to dig into a thought-provoking online course and podcast series that will explore ideas and practices for inviting change. Delivered by our innovation partner, TACSI, the course and podcast series are designed to help participants grapple with the challenges of making change while creating a space for you to feed your ideas back to the program.

Want to listen in? Subscribe to five podcast episodes and learn concepts and frameworks you can apply to your own work

Want to dig in? Register for five (1.5 hour) online workshops. All participants will receive course book and toolkit, and are also invited to listen in to the podcast series for a deeper dive into the course content.

Strengthening our foundations

The Innovation Fund is responsible for identifying and investigating opportunities for strengthening the foundations of the program. We're constantly exploring ideas for improving our current ways of working. 

Remote Volunteering

In 2019 the Innovation Fund developed a prototype for mixed-mode online and face-to-face volunteering, Open Volunteering, which was trialled with a small cohort of returned volunteers. Drawing on the learnings from this prototype, the program has implemented a Remote Volunteering initiative to volunteers and partner organisations impacted by COVID19.