Follow your own yellow brick road to Oz, and become a volunteer in Melbourne. Australia (aka Aussie, Aus, or Oz) is a prime volunteering destination. This island-continent is an entity unto itself, with a unique and beautiful environment, populated with fascinating wildlife and gregarious Aussies. Melbourne is one of the most cosmopolitan and stimulating cities in the whole country, and a fabulous landing pad for international volunteers. For a truly Australian volunteer experience, make Melbourne your number one choice for project placements.
Volunteer Work in Melbourne
Combining modern urban developments with easy access to nature reserves, Melbourne is saturated in volunteer programs, with a vast array of projects available.
With the abundance of native wildlife hopping, flying, and waddling around Melbourne’s environs, there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer in animal welfare and conservation. To volunteer in Melbourne with animals is to participate in projects that range from caring for abandoned urban critters, to roaming slightly further afield, monitoring and protecting native species. The preservation of all of the creatures unique to Australia is a priority among the organizations operating out of Melbourne. The same goes for fauna native to Australia: volunteers can join reforestation efforts around Melbourne. As well as land life, water projects and marine conservation are also constantly in need of helping hands.
Hand in hand with conservation goes eco-tourism. Tourism is a massive industry in Australia, and rightly so, but reducing the environmental impact of tourism is becomingly increasingly important as numbers of international visitors increase. Join organizations that work on projects surrounding the planning, advancement, and awareness of eco-tourism as you volunteer abroad in Australia.
Other popular volunteer projects in this cultural capital are even more people-facing. You can become a soup kitchen volunteer in Melbourne as you volunteer with Melbourne’s homeless, or work with kids in education or after-school programming as a youth volunteer in Melbourne.
Programs average two to four weeks, but some go for as long as 12 weeks. You won’t need experience to join most projects, just a passion for the cause, and a willingness and enthusiasm to learn. If this is your first time volunteering abroad and you aren’t quite sure what to expect, program fees include pre-departure support, advice on what to take, how to apply for the necessary visa, and answers to any questions you might have before you leave.
Life in Melbourne
Melbourne is the one of the most livable cities in the world. Boho chic mingles with slick modernity, and edginess sidles up to sophistication, making Melbourne one of the most popular cities to visit, let alone to volunteer abroad in Australia.
Both locals and visitors enjoy the quality restaurants and uber cool nightlife, as well as the quirky laneways, street art, and live music scene. Brunch is a serious cultural practice, and a good barista is afforded huge respect: on your free days, cafe-hopping and cappuccino-sipping are legit Melbourne activities to indulge in.
Volunteers in Melbourne will revel in cultural festivities. Once a year, the Melbourne Festival celebrates the city’s rich cultural heritage, and dance, theater, music, and circus takes over the town. Australia’s largest free community festival, Moomba, is held in Melbourne. Meanwhile, at any time of the year volunteers can roam around the city and explore Victorian-era streets filled with museums and art galleries. then of course, there is world-class shopping, lively sports events, and strolls along the waterfront. Safe to say, you will never be bored in Melbourne.
Accommodation & Visas
The best part about volunteer programs in Melbourne (well, aside from the fact that they are super fun and basically building blocks to you career) is that they will put a roof over your head and meals in your belly. Pretty much all programs will provide housing, and most include three solid meals a day in their program fees. This takes all the stress out of planning your trip, leaving you with more time to Google Image search “places to visit in Melbourne.”
Accommodation is usually in a group living situation or a homestay. Some programs have dedicated volunteer houses, that you will share with other like-minded travelers from around the world. Others will place you with a local family, which is the best way to get to know Aussies. Having this exposure to locals will also be very helpful in improving your Aussie slang vocabulary.
For volunteer programs that are less than three months in duration, volunteers will only need the Australian ETA, or Electronic Travel Authority to enter Australia. The ETA, however, will only be valid for working in volunteer programs. It will not grant holders the right to look for additional paid work while in Melbourne. If you are from a specific few countries, including the United States and Canada, you will be able to apply for an ETA online. If your home country is not included on this list, you can apply for an ETA through a travel agent or Australian visa office. To find out more about the ETA application process, and applicable fees, you can get in touch with an Australian embassy in your home country.
Benefits & Challenges
Volunteers in Melbourne will benefit from a highly professional working environment. All organizations and companies based in Melbourne are well organized and operate smoothly, making the volunteer’s role as straightforward and uncomplicated as possible. Established organizations are well-practiced in taking care of everything from transport, to accommodation, to excursions and side trips. They will be able to respond to all of your queries prior to your trip, and will continue to offer support throughout the duration of your stay.
One of the best things about volunteering in Melbourne is all the incredible things to do in the surrounding area. The coastal roads are begging to be road-tripped by volunteers: the Great Ocean Road, Twelve Apostles, and Great Otway National Park present some of the most spectacular coastal scenery in the world.
The only significant drawback of volunteering in Melbourne is the cost. The Australian dollar has quite a high exchange rate, and things such as eating out, traveling to neighboring cities, and taking part in the adventure activities Australia is famous for can quickly add up. To make the most of their trip, volunteers should go prepared with a good stash of cash saved up. Whether you’re a soup kitchen volunteer in Melbourne or opt for a sun-soaked project, the dollars invested in the experience are sure to pay dividends for many years to come.
There might not be a wish-granting wizard in Melbourne, but there is more culture, excitement, and volunteering opportunities than you can shake a stick at. So leave your Kansas behind and set off on a legendary adventure volunteering in Melbourne!