Today I mark the commencement of the new Australian Volunteers program – the next chapter in the Australian Government’s long-term commitment to international volunteering. Since 1951, the Australian Government has supported more than 14,000 Australians to volunteer abroad with aid and development projects and assist hundreds of local organisations, while advancing Australia’s reputation and relationships in partner countries.

Australian volunteers play an integral role in stepping up our engagement in the Pacific. They are often on the front-line of our development program, helping to strengthen partnerships and contribute to sustainable economic growth, security and stability in our region.

The new Australian Volunteers program will extend the reach of Australia’s development assistance, sending more than 5,000 Australians from all walks-of-life to volunteer in developing countries over the next five years.

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The program will provide more opportunities for enhanced private sector partnerships, explore new and innovative approaches to international volunteering, and help to strengthen Australia’s long-term connections in the region.

The new program will also ensure volunteers are representative of Australia by encouraging and enabling more Indigenous Australians, people with disabilities, youth, older Australians, and Australians from diverse socio-economic and cultural backgrounds to volunteer abroad.