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International volunteering: a no-risk approach to career transition.

Dimity Fifer & Don Edgar, 2006

Abstract: In a climate of misplaced panic about the ageing of Australia's population, international volunteering can be seen as one of several new approaches to social policy.

Evidence contradicts the common view that older people are or will be a burden on society, a non-productive drain on the welfare services system, and shows their huge economic and social contribution via income support to families, caring, voluntary community work and active participation in the paid workforce. We place volunteering on the international scene in a new light - as an opportunity for those looking for career transitions (whether old or young) to find meaningful work in a stimulating but low-risk environment.

Harnessing the life experience of those nearing or at retirement and extending the skills of those in early or mid career are linked to the inherent benefits of international volunteering. Leadership in a multicultural world is reliant upon the attitudes and skills of an international outlook, the embracing of change and diversity, language development and cross cultural awareness.

New attitudes to work as part of the life balance, a chance for self-development and social contribution, give international volunteering a new significance for the next century. 

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