VOLUNTEERS: DRIVERS OF THE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS

by Australian Volunteers program

(Government)

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We surveyed Australian volunteers and their partner organisations in Myanmar to find out how they see volunteering contributing to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Project goal

To better measure and report on how volunteers see themselves contributing to the achievement of the SDGs.

delivering on

why is this project important?

To ensure the Australian Volunteers program contributes to the SDGs, we need to understand how volunteers see the impact of their work. Through better measuring and reporting on volunteers’ experiences and reflections on the SDGs, the program’s contribution to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will strengthen and grow.

Key steps to make it happen

1Research

Survey volunteers and run focus groups with partners in Myanmar.

2Report

Analyse and report on key findings.

3Measure

Use findings to help us better measure and report on volunteers’ contributions to the SDGs.

4Improve

With this information, continue to develop volunteer assignments which support the goals.

5Educate

Educate our volunteers and partner organisations on how their work contributes to the fulfilment of the SDGs.

impact to date

24
Australian volunteers surveyed
9
partner organisations interviewed
67%
said volunteering plays a distinctive role in achieving the SDGs

Australian academic Dr Peter Devereux, internationally recognised for his research on volunteering for development, carried out the study on behalf of the Australian Volunteers program in Myanmar in 2017. He found that while the level of awareness of the SDGs varied among the volunteers, the majority (67 per cent) felt that volunteering played a distinctive role in tackling the goals. Dr Devereux’s research found that partner organisations reported volunteers often played much larger roles in achieving the SDGs than expected, and that their work often contributed to multiple SDGs.

In relation to achieving SDG 17, Partnerships for the goals, 54 per cent of volunteers felt they had gained a new appreciation of the importance of public diplomacy as a tool to strengthen constructive, mutually beneficial relations between Australia and the Indo-Pacific. Seventy-five per cent said they wanted to share their appreciation of life and work in Myanmar with the wider community in Australia, and 79 per cent said they learnt new professional skills while volunteering.

Dr Devereux’s research shows the need to take into account each volunteer’s contribution to the SDGs across a range of sectors, not limiting measurement to a single area.

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