International Volunteer Day, on 5 December is a day established by the United Nations (UN) in 1985 to encourage global recognition and celebration of volunteers, and the contributions they make to international development. This year’s theme is “volunteers build resilient communities”.
Community resilience is a key part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), global goals that seek to reduce poverty, improve equality and mitigate climate change by 2030. Volunteers are recognised as central to achieving the SDGs, and can actively participate in development that is driven by local people all across the world.
Today in Vanuatu there are 38 Australian volunteers working with 21 organisations across a range of industries and sectors, contributing their skills and experiences to development in this country. They work with government departments, the private sector, non-government organisations and community groups to support projects led and driven by local people.
Every Australian volunteer brings something unique to their assignment and community in Vanuatu, but they also learn an enormous amount. They learn about culture and values, about food and local life, and most importantly about the people. People are at the core of volunteering, and Australian volunteers who work and live in Vanuatu are forever changed by their experiences here.
The Australian Government has supported international volunteering in Vanuatu for many years. The Australian Volunteers Program builds on this long history. The program provides opportunities for skilled Australians to volunteer in one of 26 countries, and contribute to the Australian Government’s aid program. In 2018 alone, more than 800 Australian volunteers contributed to sustainable development projects across the globe.
International Volunteer Day is a day to recognise the important contribution volunteers make —past, present and future.