Frequently Asked Questions - Remote volunteering
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Becoming a remote volunteer
I'm not an Australian citizen. Can I become a remote volunteer through the Australian Volunteers Program?
Program volunteers must be Australian citizens or holders of a Permanent Residency Visa of Australia, or New Zealand residents in Australia with a Special Category Visa (SCV).
Can I do a remote assignment if I am an Australian citizen living outside of Australia?
If you are living in a country where the Australian Volunteers Program does not operate, you can apply to undertake a remote assignment. Please check the countries where we operate.
If you are living in one of the countries that the program does operate in, you cannot participate in a remote volunteering assignment. This is due to insurance provisions for Australians volunteering in those countries, which cannot be extended to remote volunteers.
What are the compliance and learning requirements for a remote volunteer?
There are several checks and learning activities that must be completed before a volunteer can start a remote assignment.
The compliance requirements include:
- Referee checks
- Police check (including international police check if applicable)
- Psychological assessment
- Commitment to comply with the Volunteer and Child Protection Codes of Conduct.
- Online learning
- Preparing to Volunteer (PTV) online briefing
An assignment I’m interested in is advertised as full-time but I can only volunteer part-time. Is there any flexibility?
Potentially. We flag on the position description when there’s scope for flexibility with the assignment length. This would be something to discuss with your recruiter during the application process. This might also depend on what other applicants we receive for the position.
What support does the Australian Volunteers Program provide remote volunteers?
We understand that working remotely is challenging. Volunteers will attend a Preparing to Volunteer (PTV) briefing to support them to work remotely.
Other online events you can attend:
- Country orientation briefings
- Country catchups
- Communities of practice / professional development sessions
Does becoming a remote volunteer impact my chances of becoming a volunteer overseas in the future?
Each application is assessed on its own merits and compared with the other applications received.
Completing a remote assignment may be advantageous when applying for an in-country assignment.
All those skills we’re looking for – adaptability, resilience, cultural sensitivity, flexibility – are as essential for both remote and in-country volunteering and completing a remote volunteer assignment is an ideal way to demonstrate your skills in these areas.
Becoming a remote volunteer also allows you to build a relationship with your partner organisation, which could give you a head-start if they choose to develop an in-country assignment in the future.
What hours will I work?
Working hours for remote Australian volunteers are indicated in the position description. Generally assignments are part-time (less than 25 hours a week) or full time (25 hours or more a week). The hours you will volunteer are upon arrangement with your partner organisation, but generally mirror office hours of the partner organisation you are supporting.
Can I be in paid employment while volunteering remotely?
Yes. Volunteers can participate in paid employment while undertaking a remote volunteer assignment. Assignments can be completed on a part-time or full-time basis, which gives volunteers the flexibility to manage their volunteer activities around other responsibilities.
Do I need to speak the local language?
In nearly all partner organisations, a level of English is spoken, and sometimes it will be the fourth, fifth or sixth language spoken by your colleagues. Unless specified as a pre-requisite, you are not expected to be fluent in a local language.
Remote volunteers also have access to a language allowance to cover costs associated with language classes, translation or interpretation services. Volunteers can apply for a maximum of AUD$400 to be paid as a reimbursement of costs. Learn more under 'allowances'.
If I’m on a remote assignment, can I complete my assignment in-country when travel resumes? (updated March 2022)
No. Remote assignments are developed to be completed online.
Once you have completed your remote assignment, your partner organisation may choose to develop a new in-country assignment which you might have the skills and capacity to carry out. This new assignment would be developed by the partner organisation in consultation with our in-country team.
When developing in-country volunteer assignments, we carefully assess our partner organisations’ needs, as well as the safety and security context. Volunteer deployments will only resume to locations where it is safe to do so, and the partner organisation is able to host an in-country volunteer.
Can I switch my assignment from full time to part time if my circumstances change?
Potentially, but not in all cases.
The objectives defined in each assignment are based on an expected time commitment from the volunteer. Fulfilling these objectives is important to the partner organisation. If you feel you can no longer support your partner organisation according to the original terms of your assignment, you may be able to adjust hours in consultation with your partner organisation.
In some cases we may need to end the assignment early.
Are volunteers and partner organisations participating in remote volunteering required to adhere to the program’s Child Protection Code of Conduct?
Yes. All participants on the Australian Volunteers Program are required to comply with the set of expected behaviours outlined in our Child Protection Code of Conduct, as part of the program’s commitment to child protection and child rights.
Are remote volunteers paid an allowance?
Yes. Remote volunteers are eligible for a modest allowance to cover the anticipated costs associated with remote volunteering.
The program has calculated this allowance as an estimate of weekly expenses, taking into account costs such as internet, technology equipment, international phone calls and/or online conferencing facilities.
- The full-time weekly allowance is AUD$30.
- The part-time weekly allowance is AUD$18.
Remote volunteers also have access to a language allowance to cover costs associated with language classes, translation or interpretation services. Volunteers can apply for a maximum of AUD$400 to be paid as a reimbursement of costs.
How frequently will I be paid?
The allowance will be paid monthly while on assignment.
What is the language allowance?
All remote volunteers are eligible for a language allowance. The language allowance is up to AUD$400 to go towards language training, translation or interpretation costs, based on the reimbursement of actual costs (keep your receipts!). If using the allowance for translation, be sure to plan to use the allowance prior to the end of your assignment.
Why doesn’t the remote volunteering allowance cover living costs?
The program has calculated an allowance based on anticipated weekly expenses only. This allowance does not take into account any day-to-day living expenses of the volunteer that are not related to the remote volunteering assignment.
There are many factors that were considered when calculating the remote volunteering allowance.
- The program is committed to the philosophy of volunteering and the provision of allowances should not undermine the value we place on the act of giving that is at the heart of this program.
- Volunteering overseas comes with a specific set of financial challenges that are different from a remote model. With remote volunteering, there is an opportunity to volunteer part-time and live in existing accommodation.
- Any payments made to Australians living in Australia must be made in consideration of the Australian taxation and social security systems.
What remote volunteering costs are covered by the program?
In addition to the payment of the remote volunteer allowance, remote volunteers will also be reimbursed for:
- Australian Federal Police checks
- International police checks
- Up to AUD$400 for relevant language lessons (in addition to any language training that may be provided as part of an orientation program organised by your in-country team).