Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Australian volunteers 'having a go' on UN Volunteers Day.

Download PDFDownload PDF


The Hon Bruce Billson MP Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs

AA 05 112 04 December 2005

Australian volunteers ‘having a go’ on UN Volunteers Day

Almost 600 Australians are having a go abroad as dedicated volunteers leading Australian aid efforts to fight poverty, the Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs Bruce Billson, said today.

‘Australians aged from 18-80 are working in 25 countries, from Thailand and Sri Lanka to Swaziland and Cambodia, selflessly contributing energy and skills to support communities in need overseas,’ Mr Billson said.

‘The Asia-Pacific region is highly vulnerable to a range of natural hazards including tropical cyclones, floods and landslides and Australian volunteers are often one of the quickest and best ways Australia can help devastated communities.

‘The tragedy of the Boxing Day tsunami in 2004 rallied more than 10,000 Australians to offer their assistance. The Australian Government funded the deployment of over 400 aid workers to tsunami-affected areas - including doctors to Indonesia, teachers to the Maldives and child protection workers to Sri Lanka.

‘In both disasters and longer term development projects, volunteers are supported by the Australian Government’s overseas aid agency AusAID, and placed on assignments to play a critical role in helping locals to help themselves.

‘Australians have a strong record of volunteering - since the 1960s, more than 10,000 Australians from a diversity of professional backgrounds have volunteered abroad. In 2004 almost 6.5 million Australians volunteered about 863 million hours of their time both in Australia and overseas.

‘Volunteering in developing countries is not always easy however the work can be as inspiring as it is challenging and I encourage people to get involved,’ Mr Billson said.

In 2005-06, the Australian Government is contributing more than $26 million to volunteer programs such as the Government’s own Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development and works in partnership with Australian Volunteers International, Australian Business Volunteers and Volunteering for International Development from Australia.

For further information on how you can get into volunteering or profiles of Australian volunteers please visit the AusAID website at:

Media inquiries: Shane Fairlie (Mr Billson’s office) 0408 680 442 AusAID (Public Affairs) 0408 485 560

Media releases and speeches are available on AusAID’s internet site