International Volunteering - An Investment In Development
26 August 2014 at 9:44 am
International volunteering can challenge prevailing models of development, according to a new report by the Australian Red Cross which has called on the Federal Government to grow international volunteer programs with sustainable funding.
The report called International Volunteering – An Investment In Development presents key findings from research commissioned by the Australian Red Cross in 2013 and conducted by Dr Martine Hawkes.
The report said international volunteering contributes greatly to a legitimate and sustainable development process, above and beyond public diplomacy.
“Its value can be best understood through indicators that measure contributions to civic engagement and direct service delivery, and their overall impact in bringing about transformative change,” the report said.
The findings reveal that as well as inspiring and strengthening local volunteering within host communities and laying the foundation for lasting skills exchange, international volunteering can challenge prevailing models of development.
“This is particularly so where the immersive time spent by volunteers makes their work locally relevant and sustainable,” the report said.
Australian Red Cross has called on the Federal Government to fund and invest strongly in volunteering as the cornerstone of a people-centred development approach and in the delivery of a post-2015 sustainable development framework.
“Australia needs to ensure appropriate indicators for volunteering are included in the aid agenda, to measure its contributions to addressing poverty, economic diplomacy and the strengthening of local civil society,” the report said.
The government must also recognise the importance of immersive time within communities to ensure outcomes are community owned, long-term and able to deliver results.
“International volunteering is a sustainable model that is well placed to deliver against each of the priority areas in the emerging Sustainable Development Framework, as such it
should be an integral and measurable component of Australia’s aid program,” the report said.
“It also aligns with the key economic drivers for improved growth in economies, by contributing to resilient and self-sufficient communities and working to ensure no one is left behind.
“Insights gained through international volunteering should continue to shape the aid program; in particular, the role of community participation and ownership. It is essential that we recognise communities as partners and not simply ‘beneficiaries’ in the development agenda.”