As international students, we took a huge leap coming over to a foreign country – but why does it need to stop there? Whether online or in person, volunteering is a fantastic way to step out of your comfort zone. It also broadens your Australian network and helps you to adapt to your new community, expand your skill set and increase your employability when you’re searching for work.
With a range of causes, locations and programs on offer, Australia has plenty of volunteer opportunities for international students.
Can I volunteer on a student visa?
Yes, definitely! The restriction on your student visa of up to 40 hours of paid work fortnightly does not include volunteer work. For more information on what constitutes volunteer work and what you can and can’t do on a student visa, visit the Department of Home Affairs website.
The top 10 places to volunteer in Australia
Across Australia, there are numerous op shops (second-hand stores), such as RSPCA Op Shops, Red Cross, Vinnies and Salvos Stores, that are usually staffed by volunteers. You can generally find one of these retail shops in your community, even in regional areas. Volunteering with these nationwide organisations can help you gain retail experience and enhance your language and interpersonal skills.
As part of the international student community in Australia, you can also represent the needs and voices of others by volunteering with the Council of International Students Australia (CISA).
Have you ever seen an orange van driving around to provide a mobile laundry service? That’s likely Orange Sky! At one of the 31 services across New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia, you can assist Orange Sky in providing free laundry, warm showers and genuine conversation to the homeless community once a week or fortnight. It’s also an opportunity to enhance your language and interpersonal skills.
Based in Queensland, Multicultural Australia promotes multiculturalism in Australia and provides a strong sense of belonging to all new Queenslanders, including asylum seekers and international students. You can volunteer across multiple areas, including student support, language support or events. The Multicultural Australia volunteer program is continually evolving depending on changing needs.
Study Melbourne Live Volunteers
The Study Melbourne Live Volunteers program connects you to over 200 volunteer opportunities in organisations across Victoria. As a volunteer, you can take on a leadership role in various events and programs to engage with students of diverse backgrounds. Plus, you will gain access to networking events and be given the chance to develop your professional skills.
Events South Australia
By volunteering with Events South Australia, you can get involved in various events held by the South Australian Tourism Commission and gain hands-on experience in event management. This is a great skill to put on your resume when looking for part-time jobs.
Gold Coast Student Hub & Cairns Student Hub
Student hubs are located across Australia. They are designed to welcome international students and share information on living, studying and working in Australia. As someone who has a great understanding of the international student experience, you can volunteer at either the Gold Coast Student Hub or Cairns Student Hub to help fellow international students with all kinds of matters. As well, make sure you check your local student hub’s Facebook page or website for volunteer opportunities either at the hub itself or in your area.
Youth Arts & Recreation Centre
If you have skills in art, music, creativity or social engagement, and you live in Hobart, you could volunteer at the Youth Arts & Recreation Centre. The experience will provide you with opportunities to organise social and creative programs, workshops and events for the local community. This is a great experience for students who want to gain skills in event or program planning and management.
Western Shield is one of the biggest wildlife conservation programs in Australia. It aims to manage, recover and sustain wild populations in Western Australia that are threatened by introduced predators such as foxes and feral cats.
As a volunteer, you will be able to contribute to the ongoing survival of Australia’s precious wildlife from the comfort of your home. You simply need to watch a series of videos set in the Western Australian bush, keep a close eye on the screen, and alert the system when you spot an Aussie animal like a quoll, quenda or numbat.
To volunteer with DigiVol, all you need is a computer, internet access and an interest in Australian history. You will volunteer online by transcribing documents, capturing data and deciphering images that will be shared with scientists, conservation agencies and government departments in Australia.
Your own institution!
If you’re not sure where to start your volunteer journey, make sure you stay up-to-date with your institution’s website, as there will usually be volunteer opportunities on campus, including clubs and societies, community services, ambassadorships and mentoring programs.
To search for more volunteering opportunities in your state, visit the following websites:
Queensland: Volunteering Queensland
Tasmania: Volunteering Tasmania
Victoria: Volunteering Victoria
Western Australia: Volunteering WA
Northern Territory: Volunteering South Australia & Northern Territory