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With today’s retirees being more active and healthy than ever before, volunteering is becoming increasingly popular. In fact according to a recent survey, over 50 percent of older Australians intend to volunteer in retirement.1
And when you think about it, this figure isn’t that surprising. While committing your time can have a massive positive impact on others, volunteering can be incredibly beneficial to you personally. It’s also a great opportunity to give something back.
In fact it’s these valuable skills and life experience that make retirees so attractive to many volunteer organisations, both in Australia and overseas.
Health professionals of all disciplines are obviously very much in demand. Médecins Sans Frontièrs is one of the most well-known organisations needing qualified professionals in all disciplines, but there are plenty of other Australian and international charities both large and small needing your help.
If your background is more classroom or office based, there’s still plenty of opportunities on offer where you can utilise your skills. The following are just two organisations looking for people just like you.
VISE is an organisation that provides educational help to families in rural Australia. Children who live on remote properties and who complete their education via distance learning are often very socially isolated, and rely on their parents to supervise their education. VISE is always looking for retired teachers who can go and live on the property for six weeks and take on the teaching role, allowing them to assess the student’s progress, give the parent a break, and also offer help and guidance on how the family can enhance their children’s education.
Australian Business Volunteers work with the Government’s Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) program to send experienced business professionals to countries across Asia and the Pacific region to provide practical business advice and guidance to organisations and communities. Their core areas of expertise include business development, IT, organisational development, corporate governance and marketing, and newly retired professionals are very much in demand!
One of the best things about volunteering is the only constraints are those you impose on yourself. You could help out once a month at a homeless shelter, or spend a year in a remote community in Africa – it’s all about what suits you. The opportunities are almost endless, and in some cases not what you might expect. If you ask most people what they would consider ‘normal’ volunteer activities you’d probably get a list full of working with the disabled, helping out at an Op shop or teaching English to migrants.
But while these are of course very valid ways to offer your time, you might be surprised by some of the placements on offer. A quick browse of the Volunteering Queensland website, for example, brings up ‘vacancies’ such as:
While some of these might be a bit niche, it does demonstrate the breadth of opportunity available. There really is something for everyone! So if you’re wondering how you might fill some of that new-found free time in retirement, why not give volunteering a go. Visit volunteering.qld.gov.au or call your charity of choice and get started today.
1. Planning to be Productive: The Detailed Retirement Planning Strategies of Australian Pre-Retirees. National Seniors Australia and Insurance Line December 2012.
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