Frequently Asked Questions

These FAQs provide information about how the Australian Volunteers Program is continuing to support our partner organisations. Updated: 22 October 2021

Assignments and recruitment

When will in-country assignments resume in all countries?

The Australian Volunteers Program remains committed to mobilising larger numbers of skilled Australian volunteers when it is safe and appropriate to do so.  

The global situation remains uncertain, especially with regards to international travel. Any decisions relating to sending Australian volunteers overseas will continue to be made in close consultation with DFAT Canberra, the Australian High Commissions and Embassies in the countries we operate in, and International SOS, our safety and security provider. 

The safety and wellbeing of Australian Volunteers Program participants and staff is our highest priority and will guide our decision making. While Australian borders have started to re-open, volunteer deployments will not resume at scale immediately. There are a range of complex contexts and considerations in each country that we operate in.

We are closely monitoring the local situation in each country, including COVID-19 infection rates, response capacity (testing procedures and health care resources), and vaccination levels. The health and safety of local communities remains an important consideration, and it is critical that the program does not place further pressure on local health systems. Additionally, every country has their own government-mandated entry requirements that we must comply with. There are also logistical challenges such as lockdowns, travel restrictions (inbound, outbound and internal), quarantine requirements and flight availability.

As a result of these considerations, our processes are risk-focused, phased and vary according to the unique and rapidly changing circumstances in each country. Circumstances will continue to change, and we will resume deploying volunteers to different countries at different times.

To ensure we are ready to mobilise volunteers as soon as it is safe to do so, we are encouraging prospective volunteers to sign up for our Talent Pool, where we can progress their applications.

We encourage you to talk to our in-country teams about how a remote volunteering assignment could support your vital work.

How does remote volunteering work?

Our remote volunteering initiative partners volunteers with organisations to help them achieve their development goals. Remote volunteers come from a range of professions and can support partners for a few weeks or a few months, to support their vital work.

Remote volunteering is flexible and supportive, with assignments tailored to fit the needs of our partner organisations and the lifestyle of our volunteers. Volunteers and partner organisations receive support from dedicated teams in each country, as well as training and networking.

Contact our in-country team to discuss how a remote volunteer could support your work.

Can repatriated volunteers return to complete their assignment in-country?

No, the repatriated volunteers’ assignments ended when they returned to Australia. If the assignment is still required, please get in touch with our in-country team to discuss further. Remote volunteering might be suitable, or you can start planning for a new in-country assignment.

What are COVID-19 response assignments?

The Australian Volunteers Program has worked with the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to develop an approach to enable a small number of in-country assignments. These assignments require specialist skills and support partner organisations critical to the local response to the impacts of COVID-19. These assignments are part of the broader support that the Australian Government is providing in response to the pandemic in the Indo-Pacific region through the Australian aid program.

It can take a long time to recruit volunteers. Can we advertise now and amend the start dates as needed?

We understand the importance of advertising for volunteers early. However, due to the dynamic nature of the pandemic, we need to consider a wide range of factors as we plan for sending Australians overseas, and resume advertising assignments. Program staff are actively planning so that we are ready to recruit and deploy volunteers as soon as it is safe to do so.

It is also important that we provide potential volunteers with a genuine start date wherever possible, while explaining that the start date might change due to a number of factors. This helps the volunteers to plan the significant changes they need to make to their lives in Australia in order to go on assignment.

To ensure we are ready to mobilise volunteers as soon as it is safe to do so, we are encouraging prospective volunteers to sign up for our Talent Pool, where we can progress their applications.

What is the Talent Pool?

The Talent Pool is a database of prospective volunteers. By registering for the Talent Pool, candidates progress through a number of the recruitment steps. If we find candidates in the Talent Pool who match an assignment, we can complete the recruitment process in a shorter timeframe. This means new volunteers will be ready to support organisations more quickly.

The application process is very similar to the way prospective volunteers currently apply for roles, but people apply to become a volunteer, instead of applying for a specific role.

Working together

Will the Australian Volunteers Program continue to operate in my county?

The Australian Government has supported skilled international volunteering for 60 years, and we are committed to supporting our partners now and into the future.

We are continuing to work with partners in 26 countries with initiatives such as remote volunteering, small grants, workshops and knowledge sharing, and, in some countries, small numbers of in-country volunteers completing COVID-19 response assignments.

Our in-country teams remain dedicated to maintaining our relationship with your organisation, and finding ways that we can provide support as we all navigate the pandemic.

Who should I contact if I have questions, or would like to discuss our ongoing partnership with the Australian Volunteers Program?

Please continue to contact your in-country team. They will be able to provide answers to your questions, and work with you to determine how the program can continue to support your vital work.