Volunteering for International Students in Australia

    By Kevin G. Trainer at Ausinet – 29 April 2022 – Australian Institute of Electrotechnology

If you have some spare time between studying and working as an International student, you can find volunteering opportunities! You can give back to the community and meet amazing people while also learning some useful skills! The Northern Territory is one of the best places to volunteer with plenty of opportunities!

Here is an overview of all the places you can volunteer at, and specific examples to consider when you come to study at our Darwin campus in the Northern Territory!

Can you volunteer as an international student?

Yes, you can! You do not need to be a permanent resident or citizen to volunteer as it is unpaid work, it will not count towards your 20 hours a week of work. You can volunteer as much as you want while on a student visa but make sure you keep a good work-life balance.

Benefits of volunteering

Volunteering is great to meet locals and get immersed in the culture. You will get the opportunity to practise English and make new friends! Volunteering is also a great way to learn new skills and get experience in a professional workspace. Connecting with people from the community and getting work experience will help you a lot to find a job. Volunteering is fun and rewarding and you can make a real difference!

How to find a volunteer position as an International Student?

You can look online on websites like SEEK Volunteer and specific websites for your state like Volunteering NT. You can also contact associations directly and ask them if they need volunteers. Have a chat with the student support service department of your institution as well, they should be able to give you advice on where to go and who to get in touch with. Talk about this with your friends and people you meet, they might have heard of opportunities that could be a great fit for you!

Every organisation might have a different process for volunteer applications so make sure you ask them what is involved so you are prepared. Some might ask you to do an interview, others will just get you to complete a form with your details. For some positions, you might be asked to get a police clearance or other official documents like working with children check for example. You will most likely get some training and support in the beginning so you can get familiar with how things work and what you need to do within the association.

What should you consider before signing up for volunteering?

There are a few things you should have a look at before you commit to a volunteering position. Is the association close to where you live? Consider expenses that you might incur if you volunteer somewhere far from your home as they are usually not reimbursed.

Check the position requirements and see if you match the profile the association is looking for so that you don’t waste your time and their time if the tasks they require do not suit you.

Make sure the association has insurance that covers you in case you get injured while volunteering. You should also have a person you can contact with any queries or issues. Associations usually have a volunteer coordinator – make sure you identify who that person is when you start work.

Consider checking if your values align with the association’s purpose and views as well.

How to be a great volunteer

First of all, you should know what skills you can bring and what others you are ready to learn. The experience should benefit both yourself and the organisation. While you can learn “on the job” you should also be able to show what you can help with so that you get more chances of getting a role that interests you. That can be related to your studies or not at all, up to you what you want to do!

Make sure you don’t take on too much on top of your studies and your part-time job, it is also important to have some time to relax! Determine how many hours you can volunteer every week or month and stick to the schedule that is given to you. This is important as sometimes associations might only have a limited number of volunteers and may not be able to replace you last minute if you decide you don’t want to come in that day. If you have other important commitments make sure you notify your coordinator in advance.

Other volunteering opportunities

Other than the established associations you can also reach out to local aged care facilities for example, as they might need young people to come and talk to residents or take them for walks or activities. You can also volunteer at libraries, community centres and local food pantries.

There are also a lot of community groups hosting beach clean-ups or other kinds of events that might be of interest to you.

You can contribute to the community by organising events yourself like collecting books, clothes, food or raising money for causes you want to support.

Volunteering doesn’t always have to be for a good cause or to help others. You can volunteer in exchange for experiences for example at a concert or events. In exchange for your time, you get to be there without having to pay for a ticket! If you volunteer for an event you might have a specific shift to honour and after that, you can enjoy the event – sometimes free food is provided for volunteers.  You might also get discounts for stalls.

Volunteering in Darwin as an International student

There are many associations in the Northern Territory particularly in Darwin that you can join to help! Below are a few examples, make sure you do your own research as well to find the best option for your requirements.

Young professional Network NT – They organise networking events for young professionals as well as conferences and other events aimed at helping young people with their careers. https://ypnnt.com.au/

Melaleuca – Melaleuca helps migrants and refugees settling in Darwin and assists with giving them access to education, English classes, and helps them achieve their goals http://www.melaleuca.org.au/

RSPCA – RSPCA is a charity that saves animals that have been abandoned, lost or neglected. They care for them and aim to find people to adopt them. https://www.rspcadarwin.org.au/

Kindness Shake – This organisation was created by international students during the pandemic, they organise events and support students, visa holders, migrants and refugees with financial difficulties. https://kindness-shake.com.au/

Darwin Together – They support international communities in Darwin and organise various events and workshops https://www.facebook.com/DarwiNTogether/

Sunset Soup Kitchen – They provide food to people in need every day in Darwin https://sunsetsoupkitchen.wordpress.com/

Red Cross – They are involved in projects in Australia and abroad as well. One of the ways you can contribute is by helping at one of their stores selling second-hand clothes and items https://www.redcross.org.au/places/offices/darwin/

Vinnies – They fight against poverty and inequalities. They also have second-hand stores where you can help sort out items or volunteer as a cashier. https://www.vinnies.org.au

Salvos – They help people in need around Australia https://www.salvationarmy.org.au/get-involved/

Last reviewed date: 29/04/2022

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