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Celebrating Aussies across the globe this International Volunteer Day


Red Cross is calling on skilled Aussies from all over the country to consider volunteering overseas to support developing communities across the globe.

Wednesday December 5, 2012

Australian Red Cross is calling on skilled Aussies from all over the country to consider volunteering overseas to support developing communities across the globe.

'Volunteers work hard in under-resourced and challenging environments: when you do that, the rewards come from the relationships you forge with your colleagues, and the small steps of progress you make together,' said Australian Red Cross spokesperson Aarathi Krishnan.

'As a volunteer you get to know a place like an outsider never could - you get inside its culture and its lifestyle by working alongside local people, helping them to achieve things that they want.'

Australian Red Cross has been sending volunteers overseas for the past 18 almost months, under the Australian Volunteers for International Development program, an Australian Government AusAID initiative. We currently have about 100 volunteers in the field across Asia, the Pacific and Africa.

'Sometimes we need specialists like nurses or crop geneticists. But most often, we're looking for people who can help run a business, lead a small team, balance a budget or manage a project. Those are skills found throughout Australian workplaces - across the breadth of regional and rural communities, along with the big cities - and those are the people we need,' said Ms Krishnan.

AVID assignments range from three months to two years, and those recruited are supported with airfares, accommodation, living allowances and other services. For more information and current vacancies visit www.ausaid.gov.au/volunteer.

Some of our volunteers - from Murrumbeena and North Fitzroy in Melbourne, Archies Creek in Victoria, and from Wooloowin in Brisbane - available for interview are:

Loretta Bellato (North Fitzroy, Melbourne) is volunteering with the Cambodian Organisation for Children and Development, which assists several thousand of Cambodia's poorest children and their families. Loretta, whose partner and two young children relocated with her, has a background in health service management and social work and is using it help the organisation to further develop its programs. 'The biggest challenge so far has been taking that first plunge; making the decision to uproot myself and our whole family.'

Liane Arno (Archies Creek, Victoria) has just returned from three months in the Philippines. A former head of human resources, she supported Philippine Red Cross Society as a community services mentor. Liane and her husband Matt often volunteer overseas together, though he wasn't able to make the Philippines posting. 'In 2001 we decided to have a sea change when Matt developed cancer, so we left corporate life behind to run a small pub in a town of only 20 people, and along with that we also do regular volunteer stints overseas.'

Robyn Seymour (Murrumbeena, Melbourne) is a road safety specialist, who is just about to finish up a six month posting in Cambodia. The number of vehicles in Cambodia has skyrocketed in the last decade, and road facilities have increased 50% in the past seven years. Robyn's brief has been to look at ways to make the roads safer. 'I have been interested in international volunteering for about 20 years but never thought my skills were right, but when I became aware of this role it seemed like a perfect fit,' said Robyn, who is working with the National Road Safety Committee.

Tina Briggs (Wooloowin, Brisbane) has just begun another six month volunteer stint based in Kisumu, in western Kenya. She is helping the local Red Cross Branch keep the young volunteers, who deliver its community health, blood and disaster management programs, passionate and motivated. 'When I arrived here I was given the local name of Akinyi meaning born in the morning … it doesn't take long before you become attached to the people and the town as they are both so warm and welcoming.'

This festive season you can support Australian Red Cross by giving a gift to those who really need it - to make a donation please visit redcross.org.au or call 1800 811 700.

For media inquiries: Kim Batchelor 0457 542 113 or kbatchelor@redcross.org.au

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