What are some Australian/international volunteer organisations.
August 24, 2006 8:11 PM   Subscribe

What are some Australian or international organisations that are similar to the Peace Corps?

Sometime shortly after I graduate, I want to do some form of volunteer work abroad, something like the Peace Corps offer. However, as an Australian citizen, I can't exactly join the Peace Corps. Are there any organisations that have similar kinds of work?

Ideally I'm looking for something that offers a living wage and look somewhat respectable on a CV. I'm not really bothered about where abouts most work is located, anywhere would be great. I would want to do it in 3-6 years time and by then would hopefully have a diploma in science with a Chemistry/Geography double major.

Anecdotes welcome!
posted by Serial Killer Slumber Party to Work & Money (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Hmm, like Australian Volunteers Abroad?

If you have any technical inclination you could also check out Engineers without Borders
posted by sien at 9:02 PM on August 24, 2006

Volunteer Service Abroad (New Zealand-based).
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 9:20 PM on August 24, 2006

There's always International Student Volunteers
posted by cholly at 9:45 PM on August 24, 2006

* Australian Volunteers International ph: 03-9279 1788
* Australian Business Volunteers ph: 02-6285 1686
* Volunteers for International Development from Australia (VIDA) ph: 08-8232 3050
* Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development ph: 1800-225 592
posted by Lucie at 10:50 PM on August 24, 2006

This lacks names of specific programs, but leans heavily towards finding the opportunity that would be right for you rather than available to all.

General routes:
-Call the Peace Corps offices and ask them - they must get this question a lot, and must keep tabs on what other programs are up to worldwide.
-Find out if there's an RPCV (Returned Peace Corps Volunteer) community in Australia, ask some contacts there. The folks involved with the RPCV are, in general, very willing to help others who are interested in service and are often still strongly "in the network"
-Talk to people doing graduate work or research in international development - they have contacts with lots of big and small programs that may want you. There are a couple strong programs in Australia that could help you out.

More specifically:
Since this is a few years into the future, and something you want to have looking "respectable" on a CV, you might invest some time over the coming months and years in investigating opportunities that are more germaine to your field of study and could contribute more directly to your long-term plans.

In other words, instead of participating in a well-known, but general program, you could be doing volunteer work directly related to your technical skills. Looking at chemistry and geography, things that come to mind are water purification (bacterial and elemental - arsenic is getting a lot of attention right now) and land use-related projects (maybe in conjunction with local agricultural extension work?). There are also ways to get involved in teaching for a time, and science is very difficult to get teachers for here (US), let alone in rural, under-developed communities!

(I'm an engineer, and work with US-based student programs in international development. If you give more thought to the "more specific" type routes, feel free to email me since those are all ones I have a contact or two in who love to help students with a growing interest in public service.)

(Also, what are you expected to do with your summers as a Chem/Geo undergrad? You may also consider finding opportunities for the summer that are approximately break-even financially. Funding may be available through your university, state/national government, or outside foundations...)

posted by whatzit at 11:00 PM on August 24, 2006

Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development is a program funded by Ausaid (federal government) which places younger Australians (18-30) in volunteer positions for 3-12 months in the Asia-Pacific region. Positions are advertised a couple of times a year. The program covers airfares, medicals, insurance, living allowance etc (as a rough guide, you can expect something like A$1200/month, but it varies depending on the country you are posted to - that amount is usually enough to live a comfortable but not luxurious lifestyle. Note that this is probably more than the other programs tend to pay).

VIDA Volunteers is a relatively new program, also funded by the federal government and managed by the same organisation that looks after the youth ambassadors. It has no age restriction and can do placements for longer than 12 months.

Australian Volunteers International as mentioned above is the oldest program in the family. Most posts are for two years.
posted by AnnaRat at 11:56 PM on August 24, 2006

There's also the UN Volunteers program, which is open to anybody. (I don't know anything about this program, nor anybody who has participated - sorry I can't be more help here.)
posted by Quietgal at 8:27 AM on August 25, 2006

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