The connection and friendships between Australian volunteers and their Sri Lankan counterparts will be recognised and celebrated today on International Volunteer Day.
Since 1980 skilled Australian volunteers have supported development in Sri Lanka, joining scores of local partner organisations to help them achieve their own development goals through the Australian Volunteers Program, which is supported by the Australian Government.
International Volunteer Day (5 December) was established by the UN in 1985 to recognise the valuable contribution volunteers make to international development across the world, and the theme for this year’s International Volunteer Day is Together We Can through Volunteering.
The need to support local partner organisations to build their capacity and resilience, and support development objectives, remains crucial for Australia. In addition, the global nature of the pandemic makes the understanding of global interconnectedness more valuable.
Acting High Commissioner, HE. Amanda Jewell said that recognizing the value of skilled international volunteering has never been more important than in 2020.
‘The impact of COVID-19 on communities in Sri Lanka has been profound, and while it has been a challenging year for Australian volunteers and the organisations they support, volunteering always finds a way,’ she said.
Australian volunteers returned to Australia early in the year due to the impact of COVID-19, however the Australian Volunteers Program has continued supporting partner organisations in Sri Lanka throughout 2020.
The program implemented a new Remote Volunteering initiative, enabling volunteers to support organisations from Australia. In Sri Lanka, the Centre for Poverty Analysis was supported by a remote Australian volunteer with developing research quality standards, staff training and workshops.
Equality-based Community Support and Training ECSAT, another of the program’s partner organisations in Sri Lanka, which provides education, support and training for marginalised young people, was supported with a grant through the program’s Impact Fund to help them and their community respond to the impacts of COVID-19.
The organisation ran training to support their beneficiaries to protect themselves and their communities from COVID-19, as well as resume their education, vocational training and therapeutic support services for people with disabilities.
HE. Amanda Jewell further said that the Australian government had supported skilled international volunteering for more than 60 years.
‘When communities face crisis people come together, and we are extremely grateful for the way Australian volunteers, and the local organisations they work together with, have continued to support each other,’ She said.
‘Today we say thanks to volunteers for all they have contributed to development in Sri Lanka, and for the long-lasting relationships they form with the Sri Lankan community.’