Australia launches new volunteer program to boost overseas aid efforts

17:38, May 26, 2011      

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Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd on Thursday launched a new body, Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID), which will see more than 900 volunteers' deploment to 33 countries under the new program in 2011.

The AVID brings four separate overseas volunteer programs under a single program, and aims to make it easier for more Australians to volunteer their services in developing countries.

Launching the new body, Rudd said Australians wishing to participate in Australia's overseas aid program will now have even more information and easily accessible material to help them navigate their way through what being a volunteer actually means on the ground.

Rudd said the government's volunteer program represented one of Australia's best characteristics.

"When we see people in distress anywhere in the world the natural response of Australians is one of saying: 'What can I do?', " Rudd said at the Parliament House launch in Canberra on Thursday. "This is a very good value."

Under the new integrated program, Rudd said more than 900 volunteers, a record number, will be deployed this year to 33 countries, including to new destinations such as Sri Lanka, Palau and the Federated States of Micronesia.

He said Australian volunteers contribute to improving people's lives in developing countries, at the same time bringing new ideas and perspectives to Australian life.

Meanwhile, AusAID, which is the Australian Government's overseas aid program, said volunteers are an important part of the aid program, contributing their time and skills to local organizations and communities, and making a substantial contribution to sustainable development in partner countries.

Source: Xinhua
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