Testing volunteer models with students in Laos

The Australian Volunteers Program is partnering with Huam Jai Asasamak (HJA), a leading youth volunteering organisation in Laos, to co-develop a model of volunteering that utilises the expertise of both organisations. This model is being developed within the Innovation Hub's broader project to support volunteerism in Laos by expanding national youth volunteering opportunities.

The program team joined up with HJA in Luang Prabang to run a workshop with Laos Australia National Scholarships (LANS) students, who were identified as a good cohort of young people on whom to test our ideas. We collaborated with academics from Souphanouvong University to prepare a consultation workshop that would draw out their experiences and ideas, a critical element of the design process. Students were engaged in strengths-based activities, interactive surveys using new technologies, and focus group discussions and student inputs will be fed into the development of the volunteering model.

Prior to this visit to Luang Prabang, Innovation Hub and HJA staff had been collaborating on the project online from different locations. This week of working together helped establish the project team and how we will work together to co-develop this idea. It was a hugely successful week collaborating with our partners and stakeholders, which has regenerated our enthusiasm and provided a clearer way forward for pursuing this opportunity.

Our next steps are to synthesise the learnings from the LANS students to further develop the idea and feed it into a volunteer journey map. This journey map may be included in the third co-design workshop, which is flagged for October. At this workshop, we plan to meet with industry and potential employers to understand what they see as the needs of young people entering employment.

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