Australia joins the Philippines in celebrating National Volunteer Month
Australia joins the Philippines in celebrating National Volunteer Month in December and recognising the achievements of local and international volunteers spread across the Philippines who are helping people overcome poverty.
Australia, through the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), supported the National Conference on the Engagement of the Academe in Volunteering, organised by Miriam College and VSO Bahaginan, from 6 to 7 December. The Conference helped build awareness on how volunteerism can create environments conducive for active citizenship and how volunteers are important development partners. AusAID was co-convenor of the conference.
Australian Embassy Chargé d’ Affaires Andrew Byrne, said: “The Australian Government’s aid program aims to help improve the lives of Filipinos. We work in partnership with the Philippine Government to deliver aid where it is most needed and can make the most impact. Australian volunteers contribute to this goal by working with Filipino organisations to share their skills with poor communities. The International Volunteer Day on 5 December and the Philippines’ National Volunteer Month provide an important occasion to celebrate the role of volunteers in development.”
AusAID funds the Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) program, an initiative that deploys skilled volunteers to live and work in developing countries as part of the Australian aid program.
“Volunteering overseas is one way that Australians can make a positive contribution to poverty reduction, sustainable development and cross-cultural understanding. They develop a strong understanding of local and cultural issues and build effective professional and personal relationships that help them share skills and knowledge,” Mr. Byrne added.
Australian Volunteer Liam Dennis arrived in the Philippines in August for a 12-month assignment as a Human Rights Legal Officer with the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL). The union is an association of human rights lawyers committed to the defence, protection and promotion of human rights, especially of the marginalised poor and oppressed.
Liam, who is currently studying a Masters in International Law, will be working with local and international lawyers on public interest cases and developing and implementing human rights training programs for lawyers and the community.
“Since starting work with the NUPL, I have been impressed with the professionalism, work ethic and commitment of the lawyers here,” Liam says. “I hope to work with my Filipino colleagues to make a sustainable contribution to the work of the organisation, particularly in relation to human rights issues faced by the most vulnerable sectors of society.”
“Moving to Manila from a small town in Australia has been a big change. Since arriving, I’ve found the people to be extremely welcoming and hospitable and their kind, open and inclusive way has made the transition so much easier. I can’t wait to keep learning and experiencing all that I can about the Philippines, its people, history and culture.”
For the past 12 years, over 200 Australian volunteers have worked with Filipino organisations on human rights, climate change, mining safety, microfinance, sustainable agriculture, community development, sustainable livelihoods, education, youth development, persons with disabilities, environmental sustainability, governance, and human trafficking.
AusAID is partnering with Australian Red Cross, Australian Volunteers International, and Austraining International in the implementation of the Australian Volunteers Program. For more information about Australian Volunteers for International Development, visit www.ausaid.gov.au/volunteer.