About the program

The Australian Volunteers Program matches a broad range of skilled Australians with partner organisations across the Pacific, Asia, and Africa to support them to achieve their own development goals.

The Australian Volunteers Program is an Australian Government-funded initiative that supports global volunteering. We support partner organisations operating across the Pacific, Asia, and Africa to achieve locally-led change and the realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The program fosters strong, mutual relationships between Australia and people and communities globally to contribute to achieving equitable development outcomes.

We aim to:

  • Support partner organisations to progress their development objectives
  • Increase key stakeholders’ appreciation of the value of volunteering
  • Increase program participants’ cultural awareness and build stronger connections across countries

What we do

The Australian Volunteers Program supports global volunteering as a people-centred approach to capacity development. Our initiatives include:

How we work

Our work is underpinned by a rigorous approach and we strive for best practice in everything we do.

Our principles

Our guiding principles are fundamental to delivering our program 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.

Policy framework

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.

The Australian Volunteers Program is framed by and contributes to the Australian Government's development policy, Partnerships for Recovery: Australia’s COVID-19 Development Response and the 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 managed by AVI in a consortium with DT Global and Alinea International, and is part of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s (DFAT) people-to-people program portfolio. In 2020, DFAT commissioned an independent evaluation of the program, which included valuable findings on the program’s performance and recommendations on how it can be delivered in an evolving global context.

Our history

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 development challenges in our region.