Making a positive contribution

Do your research so that you can make mindful choices about where you dedicate your time and resources.

'Doing good' can be more complicated than you think. Sometimes, in an effort to help people we take away their power to help themselves.

Even with the best of intentions, volunteering can:

  • reinforce stereotypes of ‘us’ and ‘them’
  • take jobs away from local people
  • create dependency on charity, and at its worst
  • be exploitative.

It’s essential that you choose a volunteer placement that puts equality and respect at the centre of your work.

We recommend taking the time to understand where your efforts are really needed. Watch the below video to find out more about taking a mindful approach to international volunteering.

Watch video


Before you volunteer overseas, get informed by reading the following resources:

  • Barbie Saviour challenges the way that some people perceive volunteer and development work in Africa.
  • Comhlamh’s 'What Next?' toolkit provides ideas on staying involved in causes after returning home from your placement.
  • Re-Think Orphanages is a cross-sector network which provides videos, articles and resources to shift the way Australia engages with overseas aid and development.
  • 'Why Say No' [PDF 411KB] is a useful resource that explains how and why volunteering in orphanages is damaging to children and communities.
  • ACFID (Australian Council for International Development) have a great guide [PDF 297KB] that further outlines Responsible International Volunteering for Development.