AVI is the world's oldest international volunteering for development organisation

Formerly known as Australian Volunteers International, AVI is a not-for-profit international development agency. Since 1951, when we sent the first international volunteer to Indonesia, we have inspired, recruited, deployed and supported over 12,000 Australians to work for over 3,000 partner businesses, government and community organisations in 89 developing countries to develop capacity according to their needs to achieve their own development goals.

We do this through

  • Inspiring, engaging and connecting people around the world
  • Building capacity through sharing expertise and knowledge
  • Building relationships of mutual respect and trust
  • Cultural understanding and competency
  • Locally owned and led change
  • Facilitating, not driving, the development process
  • A strength-based, human rights and inclusive approach

And underpinned by:

Respect, integrity, solidarity, gender equality, inclusion and diversity

We believe that volunteering for development enables locally owned and led, appropriate and sustainable development.  

The United Nations has recognised the critical role of volunteering in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular SDG17 Partnerships.

Complementary to DFAT’s Smartraveller’s volunteering overseas guidance, AVI has developed the following principles to guide volunteering for development.

AVI's Principles for Volunteering for Development

1. Successful volunteering requires the right person in the right organisation

It is important to ensure you are the right person for the right job placed in and supported by the right organisation/s. All of the organisations involved should be credible, reputable, transparent, accountable and committed to long-term partnership for development. They should have the capacity to support you to do the best you can while volunteering. The volunteer opportunity should also be a good fit for your skills, knowledge and personality. You should be open to the experience, and willing to get equipped with the cross-cultural and other personal and professional competencies so you can both contribute to and benefit from the volunteer opportunity. 

2. All volunteer opportunities should be locally driven and based on locally identified priorities and equitable relationships

Local communities and locally based organisations should be driving the request, design and ownership of the volunteer opportunities. Not only is it fair and just for people to be influencing decisions that affect them, but the most effective change is locally owned and led; it is not imposed.

3. Volunteering is about contributing to developing the capacity of people and organisations. It is a mutual exchange and learning process

Volunteering opportunities should have a focus on working with people to develop their skills and knowledge to support positive change. It is not a one-way process, but involves you working with local people to combine your skills and knowledge with theirs. Volunteering therefore has mutual benefits; you should benefit as well as host organisations and communities.

4. Volunteer placements should be realistic, support positive change and respond to organisational needs to support development objectives.

Volunteer opportunities should make a clear, and realistic, contribution. They should not be driven by a supply of willing volunteers, but fill a need identified by an organisation or local community.

5. Everyone involved should be safe and participating willingly

Everyone involved in volunteer opportunities should be safe, secure and have a positive experience (even if it is challenging at times!). This includes you as the volunteer and the people you are working with, especially children and other potentially vulnerable people.