Located on Australia’s south eastern coast, Sydney is a perfect place for international volunteers. As the most populous city in a country known for its wildlife and landscapes, there are plenty of great volunteer activities available in Sydney. From beaches and national parks to the busy city center, opportunities are endless. Find out what makes Sydney such a popular place to live and visit!
It comes as a surprise to some that there is plenty of environmental work to be done even in a big city like Sydney. Australia itself is one of the most urbanized nations in the world and many of its metropolises don’t do well when it comes to sustainability. At the current rate of population growth, issues like pollution, energy consumption and land clearing are bigger problems than ever. The most important thing conservation volunteers can do in and around Sydney is to educate the population on alternative sustainable practices. Research and teaching are great ways to spread the information about conservation visiting volunteers who want a more exciting project should also look into outdoor, hands-on projects. Examples include cleaning and beautifying projects, wildlife tracking and care, and more.
Community Development, Education and Health
The government of Australia as well as the Centre for Social Impact have defined several key social issues in Sydney. Health is one of the area’s most pressing social issues. As a healthcare volunteer without experience in the field, you can still make a difference through education and assisting with basic tasks and administration in hospitals and clinics. Those will a background in medicine or healthcare can make an impact by helping with more specific and advanced tasks in these settings. Other social issues mentioned are a little more obscure - when it comes to making citizens feel a stronger sense of belonging, any type of community volunteer work can help. You can volunteer in community centers to support local and cultural events and happenings. Education is another sector that volunteers can take part in. By supporting and empowering students at all levels, you can help the next generation grow.
The original inhabitants of Sydney, the Australian Aborigines, have lived there for more than 30,000 years. Today, more than 70% of people from Aboriginal descent live in urbanized areas of Australia. Over the years, this ethnic group has faced discrimination in many forms - from politics to education to healthcare. The government is working to fix some of these issues with initiatives like compensating a community for ensuring that all children attend primary school. Volunteers can help by joining indigenous advocacy groups and educating the public about these issues. You can also work directly with the Aboriginal population to ensure their access to these various institutions.
Planning Your Trip
Volunteer Resources and Support
The City of Sydney does a great job promoting volunteerism among its citizens and will also welcome foreigners to their projects. They are a great resource for finding out about the local volunteer community and what projects they are working on. There are also a good number of NGOs based in Sydney. If you find and NGO with a mission that speaks to you, you should contact them directly about how you can offer your time and efforts to support them. WANGO offers a list of NGOs in all of Australia.
How to Save Money While Volunteering
Sydney, and Australia in general, can be an especially expensive place to volunteer. The high cost of living is a result of many factors, like the large amount of tourists that visit regularly. Accommodation is usually dependent on the type of program you are traveling with so be sure to ask the organization about all of your options. Sydney does have some pricey restaurants but is also filled with cheap ethnically diverse eats. Sydney has some of the best and most widely-used public transportation options and taking advantage of this will definitely save you money in the long run.
Best Places to Volunteer
The Inner South and Inner West (once known as the working-class district), which cover several vibrant neighborhoods, are great places for volunteers who want to take on the local culture head first. From artisan markets and outdoor food markets to cultural and historical hubs, volunteers will always have something to do. The Eastern Beaches are a great place for volunteers looking to be a little farther from the city’s hustle and bustle. Although these beachside suburbs are still more crowded than those on the coast, they are still considered some of the best places to relax.
Health and Safety of Volunteers
It’s important to always be aware of your surrounding when in a foreign place. People begging on the streets are harmless but theft and robbery is more common so always hold onto or lock up your belongings. Intoxicated people are found throughout the city streets at night and sometimes cause problems but are generally safe. No immunizations are needed for travel to Australia but bug repellent is highly recommended.
Contributed by Katie Boyer
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.