October 31st, 2018

AVI celebrates 2018/19 at Annual Review

It was wonderful last week to see over 120 staff, returned volunteers, Board and supporters at AVI’s Annual Review at the newly renovated State Library of Victoria, expertly emceed by AVI’s President, Sam Mostyn. We were honoured to be joined by newly appointed Assistant Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Senator The Hon Anne Ruston, who spoke with great conviction on the importance of volunteering for development and the Australian Government’s partnership with AVI.

She also used the occasion to announce the launch of an exciting new three-year initiative by DFAT, the ‘Child Safe Volunteering Hub’ which, in partnership with AVI, will strengthen child safe systems in Asia and the Pacific through child safeguarding specialists and fifteen volunteer assignments.

Guest Speaker Professor John Thwaites, Co-Chair of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network, delivered an inspiring keynote on the importance of the SDGs, key responses and how we can engage Australians to be part of this global movement. AVI Chair Kathy Townsend recapped the past year at AVI, which is indeed a year worth celebrating. 

As managing contractor, over the past 12 months, we have worked hard to establish, implement and now manage the Australian Government’s Australian Volunteers Program with consortium partners Cardno and The Whitelum Group. 

Building on 67 years of experience in international volunteering for development, AVI deployed more than 1,000 skilled Australians abroad to help build self-identified capacity in partner organisations 27 developing countries.

Our shared value partnership with the Intrepid Group under DFAT’s Business Partnerships Platform has supported ten women’s businesses as they establish and grow in Myanmar’s emerging tourism market as well as develop a basis for more community-based tourism projects ready to launch. We continued to support international development placements for university students from Macquarie University, University of Melbourne, University of New South Wales and recently Australian Catholic University as well as additional international projects with mentors in Timor-Leste and Solomon Islands.

Given its critical role in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, we have remained vocal as a strong advocate of volunteering for development. Two significant milestones in this area over the past 12 months include the launch of the first practice note for the sector, developed in partnership with Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) members as well as our work with DFAT on their Smart Volunteering campaign. 

While it has been a year of great change, we remain committed to AVI’s purpose and theory of change, which both ground us and inform the development of our future services.

As I write, I am currently attending International Forum for Volunteering in Development's (Forum's) annual conference of International Volunteer Cooperation Organisations (IVCO2018) in Montreal. On 30 October, I was elected as the Chair of this global network of organisations involved in international volunteering, the second Australian to do so, and I look forward to sharing my reflections on this experience with you in next month’s newsletter.

Paul Bird