International volunteering

Australian volunteer on assignment
Australian volunteer on assignment
6.1 Volunteering_Fiji_Nas in Action 2 (1)
Innovation Lab

In 2016–17 Scope Global continued as the largest delivery partner under the Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) program. AVID contributes to Australia’s overseas aid program by strengthening capacity of local host organisations and developing people-to-people linkages between Australia and developing countries.

Scope Global managed 656 volunteers across 15 countries through Asia and the Pacific during the year, including placing 349 new volunteers with organisations that host volunteers.

Our team developed volunteer assignments with 447 host organisations across a broad range of organisation types and assignment sectors that align with the Australian Government’s aid, trade and foreign policy priorities. This included a significant focus on fostering private sector economic development to improve the livelihoods of local people and communities.

One of AVID’s strengths is the diversity of the volunteer community and a key focus over recent years has been enhancing inclusiveness. Targeted initiatives increased participation of people with disability and we achieved with our largest participation rate so far of people living with a disability.

Case Study 1: Best practices in disability inclusion 

In 2015 Scope Global designed the Disability Empowerment Skills Exchange (DESE), a world first for inclusive team-based international volunteering. DESE connects skilled Australians who have lived experience of disability with partners in the Asia-Pacific region to share knowledge, combat stereotypes and develop leadership for disability empowerment.

In 2017 the second and third skills exchanges mobilised to Fiji and Laos to partner with the Fiji Ministry of Education Special and Inclusive Education Unit, the Laos Disabled Women’s Development Centre and the Laos Disabled People’s Association.

The DESE teams cumulatively reached 693 local people via 30 activities that included people with disability acting as co-trainers and facilitators. Outcomes included:

  • Increase of private sector, government and tourism organisations offering employment opportunities for students and people with a disability in Fiji and Laos
  • Provided professional development sessions with teachers from three pilot schools in Fiji
  • Improved team skills of the Laos National Wheelchair Basketball team
  • Initiated a Laos Women’s Wheelchair Basketball Team
  • Modifications to enable the first wheelchair accessible and safe van in Laos
  • Disability awareness raised in local communities such as taxi drivers, accommodation staff and tourism providers.

The initiative has been recognised domestically and internationally for its inclusive model, bilateral capacity development outcomes and significant reach, engagement and public diplomacy outcomes with communities in Australia, Fiji and Laos.

Case Study 2: A world beyond boundaries: partnering with CommBank to support returned Australian volunteers

Many Australian volunteers return home from their assignments inspired by their experience and are keen to step up and find new solutions to problems they have encountered, whether on their assignment or at home.

In June 2017, 20 returned Australian volunteers gathered to attend a two-day workshop delivered in partnership with the CommBank Innovation Lab in Sydney. The applicants were selected through a competitive process open to all members of the Returned Australian Volunteer Network.

The workshop helped returned volunteers realise their potential as change-makers by introducing them to contemporary models of design thinking and experimentation, and taking them through the innovation process from idea to execution.

“What the lab taught me is that we should think about the end user – think about customers and think about how we can solve problems from a demand side rather than from a supply side,” said returned volunteer Gobie Rajalingam, who is looking to create new opportunities for food tourism in Timor-Leste.

International Volunteering
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