Often referred to as the cultural capital of Australia, Melbourne is an exciting place to live, breathe, and feel all that the country has to offer. Melbourne faces many issues today as its urban growth is at battle with its rich natural legacy of flora and fauna.
While Melbourne is home to the world’s largest tram network which humans use every day to get around the city, it is also home to the Yarra River home to Southern black bream, jellyfish, and even dolphins in South Yarra. And, while Melbourne is pretty diverse city with around 140 cultures represented, nothing can compare to the diversity in wildlife with animals like brushtail and ringtail possums, kookaburras, tawny frogmouths, kingfishers, rainbow lorikeets, yellow tailed black cockatoos, blue tongue lizards, white skinks, and grey heading foxes - to name a few.
As a large metropolitan city, there are many different opportunities to volunteer in Melbourne. Whatever your interests are, you can find a program that will fit your needs.
Today, international volunteers are vital to Melbourne’s conservation efforts. Conservation programs in Melbourne can vary with opportunities in environmental, marine, and wildlife. Environmentally, Melbourne volunteers can expect to do activities like repairing beach erosion, planting trees, collecting seeds, constructing walking trails, and monitoring all in the hopes of restoring the natural beauty of Melbourne. If your interests lie in marine conservation, there are programs for you to volunteer with sea turtles, sharks, sea snakes, or even seadragons. Above land, the rest of Melbourne’s wildlife such as varieties of cockatoos, wombats, frogs, and marsupials. Conservation volunteering is popular in Melbourne because it makes a huge impact.
The population of Melbourne includes many people who need help and assistance that volunteers can help with. For example, there are a variety of organizations in Australia to aid refugees or those seeking asylum. While in Melbourne, these organizations offer intriguing volunteer opportunities. These organizations include the Australian Red Cross, the Together for Humanity Foundation, the AMES Volunteer Program, Asylum Seekers Assistance Program, and many more. There are also opportunities to volunteer as a community connector, tutor, art mentor, or leisure buddy for the handicapable or senior citizens.
There are wide variety of opportunities for healthcare volunteers in Melbourne. Among the opportunities are to work in non-profit organizations that aid with depression, anxiety, substance abuse disorders, nutrition, health promotion, and many more. You can also work with the indigenous community of Melbourne to promote a safe, healthy, and active lifestyle among the tribes of Melbourne. There are organizations that find volunteer opportunities to volunteer with Melbourne’s indigenous community including Indigenous Community Volunteers (ICV), among many others.
Volunteering Tips: Melbourne
Volunteer Support: If you volunteer in Melbourne using a provider, you can reach out to the organization for help. There are also a decent amount of international consulates and embassies in Melbourne including the United States, Canada, and France. You can find a full list of embassies and consulates in Melbourne here. Other embassies and consulates are based in the Australian capital Canberra, which is about seven hours from Melbourne.
Know Before You Go: Victoria has strict requirements to protect the rights of volunteers that you should be aware of. While you make a contribution to the organization you are volunteering with, they have responsibilities to make sure you are safe and happy in your role. Find more information at Victoria’s volunteer website.
Questions to Ask: How long will this volunteering opportunity last? What will my specific duties involve? For those with allergies, will I be working directly with or within close proximity of animals?
Health and Safety of Volunteers in Melbourne
In general, there are no required immunizations or medications for traveling to Australia. However, it is highly recommended that you use insect repellent or other measures to prevent mosquito bites due to the risk of Ross River virus infections, and other mosquito-borne illnesses. If you are traveling to Melbourne during May through October, it is recommended that you have an influenza vaccination. If you are coming from yellow-fever-infected areas in the Americas or Africa, you will need to get a yellow fever vaccination.
In general, Melbourne is one of the safest cities in the world. To minimize risk, it is recommended that you travel in groups when possible and ask your local friends of places to avoid at night.
Where can I volunteer in Australia?
Volunteer programs can be found across Australia in big cities and their surroundings. The most popular places include Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Cairns, and Adelaide.
Do volunteers get paid in Australia?
While it's possible to get paid for volunteering, what's more likely is that you will find organizations that offer non-financial benefits in exchange for your labor. For example, you could volunteer through WWOOF or Workaway, in which you will generally be provided with meals and accommodation in exchange for your help on a family farm or small business.