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We believe international volunteering helps to create stronger, more effective development professionals, who are vital to the sector.

Our new research supports this: it finds that international volunteers gain three assets from their experience which support them to make sustained contributions to local and international development activities once their assignments have ended. Here are some key insights from the research:

  • Returned volunteers gained three valuable assets through their assignments: knowledge and skills that provide a foundation for future work in the development sector, insights into the realities of development, and networks that provide an enduring link to development.
  • People working in the development sector highly valued the insights that international volunteering provides. Around a third of development sector participants said they specifically looked for candidates with international field experience when recruiting for this reason.
  • While these assets are highly valued by the development sector, it is not always easy for returned volunteers to continue their engagement when they return home. Support from the development sector is crucial to capitalise on the assets of international volunteers.
  • The majority of returned volunteers surveyed felt they had an improved understanding of development issues (90%) and greater commitment to development issues (71%) after their assignment.

Download a copy of Strengthening Australia's Development Sector: How returned volunteers contribute and build development capacity.


Related information 

Read an evaluation of our work in Kenya and Uganda

Read a summary transcript of our recent debate about international volunteering

Download a copy of our previous research: International volunteering: an investment in development

Read stories from the field

Photo: Conor Ashleigh/ Australian Red Cross