Australian Volunteers International

For a Peaceful, Just and Sustainable World

AVI has a long history of advocating on issues related to human rights and social justice, both within Australia and internationally.

Everything we do at AVI is underpinned by a people-based ethos where strengthening capacity flows beyond individuals to influence organisations, networks and broader social systems.

Skilled volunteering helps to achieve sustainable social change, while our advocacy helps us to achieve more systemic change among decision makers.

Our position is that human rights and social justice are for everyone, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, indigeneity, disability, age, displacement, caste, gender, gender identity, sexuality, sexual orientation, poverty, class or socio-economic status.

Our various programs, partnerships and advocacy work reflect this position.

Our Advocacy focuses on six primary areas

  • Ethical volunteering
  • Locally-led change
  • Corporate responsibility and the value of volunteering
  • Equal human rights
  • Social justice
  • Global citizenship

Sustainable Change through the power of People

AVI’s advocacy includes communication with governments and policy makers, participation in round tables, regular submissions and papers, and peak body involvement.


Affiliations and Memberships

AVI is committed to upholding the highest ethical standards and delivers best practice in international development, we are proud members of:

The peak Council for Australian not-for-profit aid and development organisations, The Australian Council for International Development (ACFID). We are a signatory to the ACFID Code of Conduct, which is a voluntary, self-regulatory sector code of good practice. As a signatory we are committed and fully adhere to the ACFID Code of Conduct, conducting our work with transparency, accountability and integrity. as demonstrated through our various memberships, affiliations and governance structure.

We are also the first (and so far the only) Australian volunteering organisation to contribute and sign onto the International Forum for Volunteering for Development to improve the industry globally and stamp out voluntourism.

In 2019, AVI was selected to host Forum’s global annual conference for members (IVCO2020) and AVI’s CEO, Mel Gow, currently sits on the Board of Forum as the C-Chair of Global Standards for Volunteering.

AVI is also proud to be part of the UN Global Compact. The world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative that call on companies to align strategies and operations with universal principles on human rights, labour, environment and anti-corruption, and take actions that advance societal goals.


Sustainable Change Goals

Vocational Education & Training, Education, Health, Maternal & Child Health,

AVI’s 2028 strategic plan is driven by our purpose and demonstrates our ongoing commitment to forging trusted relationships across the world and in Australia – bringing about long-term, sustainable development outcomes and promoting positive global engagement.

Each year we summarise our impact through our Annual Impact Report, together with our financials. Our 255 community partners across 26 countries, including Australia, work with us to ensure every skilled volunteering assignment is not only safe and of the highest ethical standards, but also delivers real and meaningful benefit to individuals and communities.

Vocational Education & Training, Education, Health, Maternal & Child Health,

Campaigns and Submissions


Disability Inclusion and Equity

Progress towards disability inclusion across our region will be achieved through change that is locally owned and led. In the new International Disability Equity and Rights Strategy, Australia has the opportunity to contribute to a more inclusive, and rights-based approach to disability inclusion through coordinated efforts, policy changes, and the support of local organisations to achieve their priorities for disability inclusion and equity.

Uluru Statement from the Heart

We support the Uluru Statement from the Heart to achieve justice, recognition and respect for First Nations people and a referendum to enshrine a First Nations Voice in the Constitution. We accept the invitation contained in the Statement to walk together with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in a movement of the Australian people for a better future.


26 January

For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the longest living culture on Earth, and an increasing number of non-Indigenous Australians, January 26 represents the start of the dispossession and genocide of our nation’s First Peoples. As an organisation committed to truth-telling and reconciliation, AVI has joined the ‘change it ourselves’ movement.  There are 365 days in the year…Let’s choose one that we can all celebrate together

AVI CEO Mel Gow (centre) Washington Gatu (left) , Project Officer AVI and Barbara Pwaisiho

A Vision for International Development

Building on AVI’s response to DFAT’s review of Australia’s soft power strengths and capabilities, this submission places significant weight on the importance of people-to-people development and the quality of relationships that underpin our overseas engagements.

If we are to forge a new, progressive international development policy that supports security, stability, prosperity and resilience in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond, we must shift away from traditional approaches. We must step back to re-evaluate and align ourselves with the modern-day strategic, political and economic order of our region. In particular, we must listen to how our neighbours want to engage with us.

Residential care for children

Residential care of children, in all its forms, often acts as a vehicle for the removal of children’s rights, including their right to grow up in a family environment. As a leading international volunteer agency AVI is committed to a child rights based approach to children in need of care and protection.

The risks of harm to children who live in residential care are very high, with a growing body of evidence showing that children who are placed in residential care are routinely separated from their families, are vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse, and intentionally or unintentionally exploited by often well-meaning donors, sponsors and volunteers.

AVI also acknowledges that many well-meaning tourists and volunteers are supporting residential care centres. We want to see a shift in support towards family and community based solutions.

Establishing a Global Volunteering Standard

AVI has played a key role in supporting the International Forum for Volunteering for Development’s (Forum’s) efforts to establish the first globally agreed standard for volunteer involving organisations.

Forum’s overarching aim in creating the Global Volunteering Standard was to promote and support more impactful, more responsible volunteering. To achieve this, the work of volunteer involving organisations must be well-planned, transparent, and respectful; and based on genuine partnerships
and measurable outcomes. The Global Standard is the result of a collaborative global effort over three years. It captures and reflects our collective understanding of good practice throughout the volunteering program cycle.


Climate Change

Climate change will disrupt and reverse economic and human development. Our Pacific neighbours have reaffirmed climate change as the single greatest threat to the livelihoods, security, and wellbeing of the peoples of the Pacific. AVI supports the Australian Council for International Development in its efforts to ensure that responding to climate change becomes a fundamental pillar of Australian inclusive and sustainable development and humanitarian policy and practice.

Submission – DFAT International Gender Equality Strategy

In our submission responding to the Australian Government’s International Gender Equality Strategy, AVI calls on the government to prioritise local knowledge and genuine equitable partnerships with women’s rights organisations. We affirm the priorities of Gender Based Violence, women’s political leadership and representation




Reece Australia Water Project, Cambodia

Subscribe to AVI news and receive our annual Impact and Financial Reports via email

Sign Up

Reece Australia Water Project, Cambodia