Best Volunteer Abroad Programs for Australians
Aussies are born to explore - whether it’s diving 20 metres below the ocean, getting lost in the middle of woop-woop and nowhere, or exploring the back alleys of an uncharted city - if there is place out there to see, an experience to have, you guys are game! Crikey, there’s not another nation like you! And mate, we wouldn’t dare give you the raw prawn - so here it is straight:
International Volunteer HQ makes it easy and affordable to organise a volunteer trip to over 35 destinations around the world. We connect you with a dedicated Program Manager to support you every step of the way and you can choose to volunteer at any time of the year, for anywhere between 1 week and 24 weeks. Once you arrive, you’ll be greeted at the airport, transported to your accommodation and joined with a group of other international volunteers for your program orientation. Your weekdays will be spent supporting the project of your choice, while your weekends will be free to explore your host country.
So don’t get bogged down in excuses, check out these top-rated volunteer programs, as recommended by our Australian volunteers.
It’s no wonder Australians choose Cambodia time and time again! The Khmer charm sweeps you right off your feet from the moment you land. It’s a country with some of the friendliest communities you’ll ever come across, stunning landscapes and a deep history. You can request to volunteer in one of five locations across Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Pursat and Kampong Speu. With so many project options to choose from, it’s the perfect destination for everyone. You can opt for Teaching English, Special Needs Care, Childcare, Computer Support and Working with NGOs. Living costs in Cambodia are cheap as chips so you know your hard earned saving will go further and you’ll be able to set out and see the sights! While Australia is known for its ripper beaches, Cambodia’s hot on its heels, with sandy destinations like Sihanoukville. Just look at that picture below - how’s the serenity?
Righto mate, it’s like this, Laos is the place to be! Neighbouring countries Thailand and Vietnam have long been popular on the backpacker route, but Laos has the goods! The IVHQ program is based in Nanhang Village just outside of the capital city, Vientiane. The five-day volunteer orientation immerses you in the local culture and customs, plus it’s a great way to meet a few cobbers and start planning your travel adventures! Laos is a brilliant place to set off from after you volunteer. You can tick places like Myanmar and Cambodia off your bucket list! When it comes to the hard yakka you can volunteer on Teaching English, Childcare, and Construction and Renovation projects.
Trade out the Sydney Opera House for the Taj Mahal, you reckon? Deffo! Living is incredibly affordable - you can swap your Tim Tams and cuppa for a snack of dal and chai for a dollar. You can choose between projects in bustling Delhi or get your dose of monks and monasteries on the Dharamsala program. Either way India will capture your heart and it’ll be the place you come back to time and time again. The optional orientation week based in Delhi also gives first-time travelers to India the chance to learn more about the Indian culture, undertake language lessons, watch a Bollywood movie in a local theatre, and visit the ever-famous Taj Mahal! But make sure you pack your Vegemite! Indians don’t quite have the palate for it yet.
It’s just a hop, skip and a jump across to Fiji. The direct flight from Brisbane takes a mere three and a half hours - that’s sweet as. You’ll be double stoked when you land refreshed and can experience the real Fiji from the get go. For those who have only experienced Fiji vicariously through the Facebook photos of friends, it’s easy to picture 5-star resorts, tourists lazing by the pool and Instagrammable beaches. Volunteering in Fiji with IVHQ provides volunteers with the special opportunity to engage with locals in their everyday environments, whether it be through Teaching and Sports Education, Kindergarten support, or working in Construction and Renovation projects within local schools, communities and villages in Fiji. Oh, and you’ll make fast mates with a few larrikins if you play a game of footy!
Pack your thongs, budgie smuggler, and maybe something for the mozzies - you’re off to the island nation of Madagascar! You’ll be surrounded by crystal clear waters, white sandy beaches and amazing local communities. It’s no wonder this program rates as one of the most popular destinations for volunteers of all ages, and constantly receives positive feedback. The project options available also make Madagascar such a unique destination for volunteers, with a tough choice between diving into Marine Conservation, Forest Conservation, Teaching, and Construction and Renovation projects. It’s a bit of a hike from Australia, but fair dinkum, there is a reason they say nothing easy is worth doing.
If it’s time to head off on your big O.E, why not make it a bit different, a bit extraordinary? Choose the less traversed path and volunteer in Portugal. With the beautiful coast on your doorstep, buzzing cafe culture and plenty of weekend adventures to be had, basing yourself in Lisbon as a volunteer traveler is an amazing idea! Portugal’s hilly capital is the home base of IVHQ’s volunteer program. You can give back to the community by participating on Construction and Renovation, Food Rescue and Youth Support. IVHQers on the Wolf Conservation project are based in Mafra, while Environmental Scuba Diving volunteers are based in Albufeira. There is zero shortage of activities to keep your weekends bursting with adventure. Not to mention you can make the most of your ticket to Europe by continuing your travels with the mates you’ve just made on your program. So what are you waiting for?!
Bali is the go-to destination for travelers from Down Under. It is almost a rite of passage. But you can do more on this island than snap envy inducing pictures of beaches - you can also travel like a local and make a meaningful contribution to the community you are going to come to know and love. Bali is a great choice even if you are coming alone or bringing your rellies. The project choices are plentiful - with Teaching, Construction and Renovation, Turtle Conservation, Environmental Education, Healthcare Education and Kindergarten placements on offer. You can choose between Ubud and Lovina as your volunteer base, or opt to do the Turtle Conservation project based on the island of Nusa Penida.
What’s not to love about Tanzania? You’ve got the Serengeti National Park and Zanzibar right on your doorstep, and an all-round exotic backdrop which makes it a popular choice for volunteers in Africa. You can contribute your high energy levels to working with young children on the Childcare and Teaching projects. You’ll be working in public schools, teaching a range of subjects to local students while sharing your own culture and stories. Those with a background in Medicine should consider joining IVHQ’s Medical project, working in a variety of clinics and hospital settings, or supporting the personal and professional development of local women living with HIV/AIDS.
It’s time to fly on over to South America! Peru is probably already on your bucket list thanks to Machu Picchu. You can knock that one off when you volunteer in Peru. Both of IVHQ’s destinations in Peru offer easy access to this wonder! Our Lima program is one of IVHQ’s longest-standing programs and offers volunteers our cheapest program fees and the chance to engage in community-driven projects, including Teaching English, Special Needs Care and Healthcare. If you’re seeking a more rural setting, Cusco could be the best option for you. Both the Andean Immersion and Jungle Conservation projects offer incredibly unique experiences, based outside of Cusco central in Amazonian Jungle or Sacred Valley locations. You beauty!
To find out where else you can volunteer overseas with IVHQ, explore our volunteering destinations here.