Volunteering in Austria provides a platform within a well-developed country from which to learn valuable skills with ongoing opportunities. The fairy tale scenery; castles, lakes and patchwork-green farmland is a wonderful backdrop for your volunteering experience. On top of this the welcoming hospitality of the (traditionally lader-hosen-clad and yodelling) locals makes life and work in Austria pleasurable and rewarding.
There is traditionally a strong sense of social duty in Austria. Public services in Austria, particularly in rural areas, are often organized on a voluntary basis. Further, the political and social landscape encourages and supports a high standard of volunteering programs in Austria.
In Austria school attendance is mandatory for children, who can attend public or private schools or be schooled at home, under certain conditions. While overall the country does have a high level of education, it is in rural areas that teachers and assistants to teachers are needed. Thus there are a number of opportunities to have a high social impact by volunteering with children in these rural areas, beyond cities like Vienna and Salzburg.
Like most other developed countries, Austria has run into its share of environmental challenges that continuous "progress" brings. Volunteers interested in environmental conservation can find a number of programs, from volunteer work involving preserving forested areas and lakes to volunteer work focused on conserving wildlife whose survival is threatened by human habitat expansion.
Volunteering with the Elderly
As in many other European countries, the population of Austria is aging and with that comes a growing need for volunteers to help care for the elderly. Whether they are suffering from illnesses and need help due to disability or simply need some companionship through an elderly visitation program, senior citizens provide multiple opportunities for volunteers.
Volunteering Tips: Austria
Insurance: Insurance- EU citizens are covered for general health care with the EHIC (formerly E111). Citizens from non-EU countries should arrange appropriate health insurance in their own countries prior to travelling. (Wikipedia)
Visas: Visas for stays of more than three months are not required for citizens of the EU, the European Economic Area (EEA), much of Eastern Europe, Israel, U.S.A, Canada, the majority of Central and South American nations, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, or New Zealand. All other nationalities require a visa. (Austrian Foreign Ministry)
Money: Excluding ski resorts, where costs are obviously higher, the Austrian countryside is noticeably cheaper than urban areas. However, even Vienna is a cheaper option than its European capital counterparts i.e. London, Paris
Transportation: Austria is a well-connected country. Most major European airlines have flight routes to Vienna as well as additional routes to Salzburg, Linz, Graz, Klagenfurt and Innsbruck. Check Austria Airlines the national carrier for details. Additionally all major agencies will have further details for prices/ availability.
If you choose to volunteer in Austria you will discover a brilliant culture open in its desire to share its long-standing traditions and values. Well-established volunteer programs with enthusiastic leaders provides a stable environment in which to learn valuable and future-transferable life skills. And all of this with the classically idyllic backdrop of a “sound of music” scene, complete with hills, lakes and lush green grass.
Contributed by Helen Rountree