DFAT Dispatch

As we celebrate International Women's Day, I am delighted to be able to introduce this combined edition of the Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) and Returned Australian Volunteer Network (RAVN) eNewsletters.

This will be my final newsletter with the AVID program as I will be moving on from my role in the NGOs and Volunteers Branch of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) in the coming months. There have been many highlights for me including the launch of RAVN and the inaugural RAVN conference, the consolidation of the AVID program and highlighting the achievements of the AVID program at the International Volunteering Cooperation Organisations (IVCO) conference last year. I have had the opportunity to meet some of our passionate and talented volunteers in the field, in Indonesia and Solomon Islands; and returned volunteers in Australia.

As we focus on gender in this edition and as one of DFAT's Women in Leadership Advocates, I am pleased to highlight the significant contributions volunteers are making in improving gender equality. In 2015–16, 10 per cent of volunteer assignments had a primary focus on gender equality. There are many more volunteers who take into account the impact of gender on achieving their assignments outcomes. In this edition of the combined AVID and RAVN eNewsletter we highlight a number of these volunteers. 

Our delivery partners, AVI and Scope Global, have strong relationships with many gender equality focused host organisations such as the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), the Women's Resource Center in Cambodia, Women for Change in Mongolia, the National Commission for Violence Against Women in Indonesia and the Bougainville Women's Federation are among some of the many organisations.

In another one of Australia's long-standing programs, the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP), there are exciting developments in the area of gender equality. Following the launch of the $10 million Australian NGO Gender Action Platform in September 2016, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Minister for International Development and the Pacific, announced on International Women's Day that six Australian non-government organisations will receive grants to promote the rights of women and girls in 12 developing countries. The grants have been awarded to innovative projects that work to increase women's economic opportunities, improve women's participation in leadership, and reduce gender-based violence, in accordance with national laws. You can read more about the announcement here.

I would like to thank all our Australian volunteers, host organisations and many other organisations involved with the AVID program for your dedication and hard work. It has been my absolute pleasure to lead this program for DFAT and to work with such passionate and committed people, all determined to make a difference to the lives of others. I wish you all the very best for the future.


MaryEllen Miller

Assistant Secretary
NGOs and Volunteers Branch
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

MaryEllen Miller