Building relationships

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‘Aioema ‘Atiola

Guests from around Australia and abroad gathered at the Sydney Hilton Hotel in June and immersed themselves in the colourful world of international volunteering.

Hosted in partnership by Austraining International and UnitingWorld, the evening showcased the involvement of Australian partner organisations in the Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) program.

AVID is an AusAID initiative that deploys skilled volunteers to live and work in developing countries as part of the overseas aid program.

Guest speakers and guests explored the real difference that volunteering makes towards sustainable development and capacity building through fully funded and well-supported placements.

Austraining’s stakeholder relations coordinator, Stephanie McConachy, acknowledged UnitingWorld’s considerable engagement in the AVID program since 2006 and the success of volunteer assignments.

“UnitingWorld is a stand-out organisation that engages and supports the program in a number of different ways,” Ms McConachy said.

UnitingWorld has supported placements in Tonga, the Philippines, PNG, Indonesia, the Solomon Islands and Kiribati. ‘Aioema ‘Atiola is an educator, historian and leader in The Free Wesleyan Church of Tonga. She spoke from the perspective of a host organisation that prepares for and receives volunteers.

Welcoming the professional skills contributed by international volunteers, ‘Ms Atiola also highlighted how the support of partner organisations like UnitingWorld enables positive volunteer placements.

UnitingWorld’s Laura McGilvray openly expressed the highs and lows of volunteering in another culture and affirmed her experience as both fulfilling and life-enriching.

Ms McGilvray now manages UnitingWorld’s Experience Volunteers program.

“As a volunteer in Bali, I received exceptional support from UnitingWorld and Austraining” she said.

“I know how much that support mattered to me then and that is why I am so excited now to be involved in a program that places such high value on giving volunteers all the support they need, whatever comes their way.”

The resounding message of the event was that the most appreciated and valued aspect is the forming and building of relationships that are life-enriching and transforming for all involved.

Anyone considering a volunteer placement overseas can contact Laura McGilvray at or 02 8267 4222.  For more information about becoming an Australian partner organisation please contact

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