Palms Volunteers: F.A.Q.

You can also read our frequently asked questions about Palms Australia .

Volunteers – who they are, what they do

1. What do Palms volunteers do?

Palms Australia workers are recruited to fulfil the requirements of a request from a local community in another culture. In doing so, Palms Australia workers share their skills and gifts in that particular place. Transferring skills in this way allows a community to become more self-sufficient and better able to determine their own future.

Palms Australia workers are also encouraged to be involved with local initiatives outside their individual field of work. These could include church activities, environment initiatives, informal education and peace projects, to name a just a few.

2. Am I eligible to volunteer?

The people we seek to prepare and send are those who are open to sharing their “world” with someone considered “other.” Those willing to actually enter a mutually enriching and challenging relationship of understanding, acceptance and care–to the point of sharing worlds of meaning in the deepest sense–with a person of a culture different from one’s own.
Specifically one must have:

  • Qualifications and skills suited to a request (People are required to provide evidence of qualifications when applying).
  • (If going overseas) a current passport.
  • Good physical and mental health and a sense of humour.
  • A commitment to the people where one is working.

3. In which countries are Palms volunteers placed?

Palms Australia Global Volunteers have been placed in Australia, and various countries within Africa, Asia, and The Pacific. The countries where people work vary from year to year, dependent on the requests from communities we serve, and applicants available. Applicants’ skills are matched to communities most in need at the time. To view where volunteers are currently working, visit our volunteer profiles page.

4. Can non-Australians volunteer?

Non-Australians currently living in Australia or New Zealand are encouraged to apply to volunteer with Palms.

All applicants must be able to fund their own trips to our pre-departure Orientation Course. For this reason, individuals living further afield may wish to consider volunteer sending agencies in their own country.

5. Do I have to pay for anything?

Palms attempts to cover the entire cost of a placement with funds raised from individual donations, CommUNITY Partnerships and grants from affiliated organisations.

We ask volunteers to cover their pre-departure medical expenses. While some volunteers choose to cover a specific cost, such as airfares or insurance, this is not a requirement.

Volunteering – what does it involve?

6. Do I get paid?

The overseas partner, or employer, usually provides accommodation and in some cases, meals. Volunteers receive a basic living allowance, equivalent to a local wage, which enables a simple lifestyle. The amount you will receive depends on your location, whether you are single, with family etc.

7. What are living standards like?

Palms Australia Global Volunteers live in simple communities. This can differ depending on the country you are in, and whether it is in a rural or urban area. Some places have constant power supply; others rely on a generator for a few hours per day. The same can be said for water supplies, and access to a variable diet. Palms negotiates a Conditions of Service with the partner community. The form outlines in detail what amenities are available in your local area etc. You have the opportunity to read, challenge and sign this before you depart.

8. Can I have visitors?

Of course! You will need to take responsibility for their accommodation, and ensure that you have the time to spend with them. Most people benefit from having visitors in that coming home is made easier when friends and family have seen where you’ve been and met people you know. As a matter of courtesy you should keep your local authorities informed of pending visits. This could mean lots of people on the wharf to welcome and farewell your guests.

9. Do I get holidays?

Yes. The amount depends on your employment. Teachers naturally get all school holidays. Most other positions range between 4-5 weeks annual leave per year.

10. Will I have to learn another language?

Yes and No. Language learning is different for everybody. All countries have some level of English, mostly as a second language, so you can get by with English only. However, a large proportion of returned participants say what an asset it is to have language skills, both in their work and personal experience. As language is the key to cultural insights it can really enrich your Cross-Cultural experience.

11. Is it safe?

Palms Australia Global Volunteers do not work in war zones or “hot spots” in which some relief agencies might work following natural disasters or civil unrest. The work Palms Australia undertakes in sustainable development is usually only able to begin in settled environments. For example our work in Timor-Leste began only after initial relief efforts of the United Nations and other relief agencies. Palms Australia’s policy does not allow participants to be sent to placements that are not safe, however in any environment the individual is responsible for taking a reasonable degree of care. Should a location become unsafe in the view of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade we have procedures and insurance to cover evacuation.

12. What about disease?

Palms Australia requires each participant to pass a medical examination. It is also a good idea to have another on return. All necessary vaccinations should be taken prior to departure. Malaria and illnesses such as dengue fever exists in some areas, but most can be prevented by application to good procedures and/or regular medication. Palms Australia has a comprehensive medical insurance policy that enables those in a medical emergency to be evacuated to the nearest major hospital for treatment, including Australia.

13. What kind of support do I receive when I get home?

Palms Australia offers an immediate de-brief and, later, a comprehensive Re-Entry program designed to help returnees adjust back to their own culture and better understand their new perspective and approach so that one can let go, let be and let begin.

Palms also provides numerous opportunities for returned volunteers to remain involved.

Support a volunteer

14. I’m not ready to volunteer right now. How else can I be involved?

Palms depends strongly on community support and would welcome your assistance in a number of ways.

Ask a different question.

Setting an example is not the main means of influencing another; it is the only means. - Albert Einstein