103A Goldsmith Street, Goulburn NSW 2580Australia
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International Volunteers for Peace promotes peace through intercultural dialogue and through direct actions initiated and supervised at community level. It is an avenue for travellers to engage with local issues while abroad, extend their knowledge of themselves and of others.
It is run by and for volunteers in partnership with other organisations or by building on network links to counterparts in other countries. It is pursues long term community relationships at home, supplying volunteers for short or long term periods as fit in with conditions; and promotes untied and ethical volunteering among Australians intending to travel. It offers a wide spectrum of volunteering opportunities at minimal impost. Its philosophy is straightforward, resting on bringing people together who would otherwise not meet in a common endeavour, in comfortable or less comfortable circumstances that reflect the realities of the individual projects. It does not compete with or substitute for the activities of more established programmes or where paid labour is appropriate.
Each project is a response to some need. Volunteers can expect to gain insight from these circumstances, and from the experience of living and working with a a diversity of others over a limited time. They can expect to be asked to contribute to the good functioning of the project team; and to be treated in turn with respect and consideration. IVP has oversight for the direction of projects it sponsors, and for the conditions offered to volunteers; as indeed do its counterparts in other countries, so volunteering within this framework can be considered as a way of life, or equally, as an episode in personal experience.
It is entirely for the individual to shape the experience. Where projects bring volunteers close to areas of conflict or risk from the aftermath of natural disaster, this is made clear in prospect. IVP or its partners does not send volunteers to where they are not welcome; the conditions in which volunteers are accommodated reflect that of locals, yet project work is complemented with opportunities to socialise within the community, or in off time among the group.
The success of this work can be judged by results built up by successive teams of volunteers, and the continuing relationship with hosts. Problems and issues in the course of the workcamp – a term used to describe the time a given group of volunteers is engaged in the community – are freely discussed within the group, and with project principals; and formal evaluation encouraged in reporting.
Ultimately the success of a camp will depend on a number of factors, some within the control of the group, some not. IVP and its partners in the network, take honest appraisal seriously, and use it in planning or organising in the future.
IVP has been involved in a range of projects, some extending over many years, notably working with a school in far north Queensland (10 years); with homeless shelters in Sydney; with the Gundungurra tribal council in Katoomba; with biodiversity conservation in the southern tablelands (ongoing, from 2013); with recreational amenity in a small country town (Taralga); assisting with the Goulburn Agricultural Show (already 3 years and continuing); and assisting in the organisation of bioblitzes. It has worked with community programs in Victoria, and in remote island communities in Vanuatu. We have started an assistance program delivering surplus garden plants to communities recovering from 2019/20 summer fires on NSW south coast and southern highlands.