Best places to volunteer in Australia in your gap year
Make a meaningful difference on your Australian working holiday by volunteering.
Volunteering while in Australia on a Working Holiday Maker visa means you can contribute to meaningful change and give something back all while you travel during your gap year. As a working holiday maker, your visa enables you to stay and work in Australia in many types of full-time, part-time, casual, shift and voluntary work.
In fact, since early 2020 new visa allowances have been made for those who want to help with bushfire recovery in declared bushfire disaster areas while on their working holiday. Not only can you stay with the same employer for 12 months instead of six, but your paid or volunteer bushfire recovery work will also count towards the specified work you need in order to be eligible for a second or third Working Holiday Maker visa for an additional one or two years.
There are great organisations and program providers that can help kickstart your volunteer work in Australia. From rehabilitating Australia’s wildlife to supporting local communities, there are plenty of options available. All that’s left is for you to decide where you want to start.
If you want to use your bushfire recovery work to get a second or third Working Holiday Maker visa, you’ll need to record your hours. The visa application requires evidence like payslips, bank statements and piecework rate agreements.
Bushfire recovery volunteering in Australia
Following the bushfires of the 2019/20 summer season, many Australian communities need support as they rebuild and recover. Volunteering for bushfire recovery is all about getting Aussies back on their feet, and the opportunity offers you a meaningful way to spend your time while getting to know the locals.
New visa allowances have increased the time you can work with one employer from six months to 12 months when you’re helping with recovery work, including construction. Plus, both paid and volunteer disaster construction work will count towards the “specified work” needed to apply for a second or third year on a Working Holiday visa.Show more
Wildlife volunteering in Australia
More than 87 per cent of Australia’s mammals are found nowhere else on Earth, making conservation incredibly important.
Australia is known for its unique wildlife, and there are many volunteer options available to animal lovers who want to get involved in the rescue, care, rehabilitation and release of wildlife. You can expect to be doing anything from bottle-feeding kangaroo joeys and scrubbing sea turtles’ shells, to assisting in animal rescues and rebuilding endangered habitats.
There are a number of organisations that offer select programs aimed at animal welfare. Oceans 2 Earth, GoEco, Love Volunteers and GoVolunteer are great places to start your search. Australia also has terrific wildlife parks, zoos and conservation centres that offer volunteer programs.Show more
Environmental conservation volunteering in Australia
Environmental conservation work is perfect for anyone with a passion for protecting Australia’s beautiful oceans and ecosystems. As part of a conservation volunteering program, you will be helping with tasks like heritage restoration, tree planting, endangered species protection and habitat preservation.
Conservation Volunteers is a great place to start your search. They work across Australia on volunteer-based environmental conservation projects at places like La Trobe Wildlife Sanctuary in Victoria. Other great organisations include the Australian Marine Conservation Society, dedicated solely to protecting our oceans, Landcare Australia, representing community-based environmental protection, and Australian Conservation Foundation, focused on rallying community groups. If agriculture and farming pique your interest, look into WWOOF for its placements at organic farms across Australia.
Community volunteering in Australia
There’s no better way to get to know a place than through its locals, and community volunteering is a great way to get to know them while lending a hand. Depending on the organisation you choose, you could be doing anything from helping Aussie farmers in rural towns to working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
If the outback is calling, try organisations like Outback Links and Farm and Community Rescue. You’ll be connected with people in remote areas of Australia and will be able to get your hands dirty doing things like property maintenance, gardening, painting and general farm support.Show more