For more than 60 years Australia has been a pioneer and leader in international skilled volunteering in more than 80 countries. In this time thousands of Australians have been supported to volunteer in developing countries, and now continue to do so through the Australian Volunteers Program, funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).
Over the years, the Australian Volunteer Program and its previous iterations have been continuously evolving volunteering practice to meet the changing context in the countries where volunteers work, and the needs of partners.
The program has made a commitment to deliberately invest in innovation, and in partnership with The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI), is at the forefront of building community-led innovative thinking for volunteering.
For the past two years TACSI has been helping to build the framework for the program’s Innovation Fund, a program driving new ways of meeting the needs of partners across the Indo-Pacific region and creating professional and personal development opportunities for volunteers.
More recently Australian Volunteers Program has been identifying, designing, testing and piloting new ideas such as the ‘open volunteering’ modelbeing prototyped in 12 countries. Combining online and in-county volunteering, this prototype seeks to discover how a new model might introduce international volunteering to a broader and more diverse range of Australians.
As part of this work TACSI and Australian Volunteers Program invited partners working in disability and inclusive development from across the Asia region to a workshop in Mongolia, testing new approaches to networked volunteering, exploring to the program might create and support networks of several Partner Organisations, supported by volunteers, to work together to achieve more than they could alone.