Australian Volunteers International

December 20, 2019

Holiday message from AVI CEO Paul Bird

This year, at the Committee for Melbourne dinner, the CEO of Telstra, Andy Penn, stated that we will never experience this slow rate of change again. This is little comfort given our lives continue to get faster and busier and we find ourselves ever time poor, especially for ourselves, friends and family.

But it does mean that we must consciously adapt and harness the opportunities provided by change, including technology advances.

Over the holidays, we get a chance to slow down, spend time with our loved ones, rest, celebrate and reflect. We ponder what we need to change about ourselves and our habits, whether it is being healthier, committing to a better work-life balance, reducing our carbon footprint or enabling better lives for others.

In a world of unprecedented change, which is only going to get faster, there are many changes we can and should make ourselves. We can be role models for our family, friends, colleagues and communities.

This year, through AVI and in partnership with DFAT and Australian Universities, over 1,000 Australian students, volunteers and mentors changed their lives and the lives of colleagues and communities in 28 developing countries. From Tanzania to Tuvalu, Mongolia to the Marshall Islands, India to Indonesia and Sri Lanka to the Solomon Islands. We hope 2020 is the year you volunteer (again).

We also launched our bequest program to provide an opportunity for supporters to include a gift to AVI in their will. Led by our Chair, Kathy Townsend and former Chair, Richard Refshauge, over twenty supporters have done so to date. If you would like to know more, or to donate, please visit the AVI website and download our bequest brochure or get in touch today.

Finally, I was in Fiji last month to work with the University of South Pacific, undertaking research into volunteering for climate action ahead of AVI hosting Forum’s annual conference in Nadi, October 2020.

Shockingly, six communities have already been relocated due to climate change, with another 68 on the list. Much of the hard-won development gains we have made over the decades are being lost.

This is the defining challenge of our generation and we must all play a part if we are to save our species and planet. Over the holidays, can I please encourage you to reflect on the changes you can make that can make so much change.

Paul Bird