It has been another year of achievements for the Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) program. In a month of celebrations with International Volunteer Day on 5 December and the inaugural Returned Australian Volunteer Network (RAVN) conference, I am pleased to introduce a combined AVID and RAVN e-newsletter for this final edition for 2016.
The inaugural RAVN conference, "Valuing Volunteers: Bridge Builders & Change Makers", was held on 3 and 4 December in Melbourne. This was an exciting event with an inspiring line-up of speakers encouraging returned volunteers to continue to harness their volunteering spirit, whether it be through activities back home or continuing to engage with international communities. I thoroughly enjoyed this event as it provided a valuable opportunity for me to connect with the returned volunteer network and hear about the remarkable contributions volunteers are continuing to make in their communities here and abroad. You can view photos from the conference here.
You can also hear from the Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Senator the Hon Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, about the conference and the role of returned Australian volunteers on the new DFAT blog.
This conference marks another milestone in the growth of RAVN as an alumni network to connect and engage with Australian Government-funded volunteers across the decades. RAVN events have been held regularly across the country this year. These events have provided an opportunity for returned volunteers to get together and hear from some insightful speakers on topics including, storytelling, the impacts of international volunteering, gender in development, disability inclusive development, partnerships and Australia's humanitarian contributions. We also launched the RAVN storytelling toolkit and we hope it has assisted many of you in sharing your stories.
International Volunteer Day (5 December) also presented a valuable opportunity to celebrate the contribution volunteers are making to strengthen Australia's aid program and support Australia's partner countries. Many events were held with Australian volunteers around the region and beyond. In this edition we showcase some of the highlights from these events.
I look forward to another dynamic year in 2017.
Director, Australian Volunteers Section
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade