A Million Places to Volunteer in Brisbane (And why you should do it!)

Volunteering provides real world experience, looks great on a resume and connects you with your community. It can provide opportunities for you to meet like-minded people, travel, undertake free courses, or allow you to gain an in-depth understanding of issues and events faced by many Australians. It can make your heart soar (or sink), help you develop passion for certain causes, or just give you a broader overview on how stuff works. It can make you better-equipped to make decisions or help you to appreciate your own circumstances. Best of all, the time and energy you devote to other human beings can provide them with options or opportunities they never thought possible.

Volunteering for an organisation/cause you’re passionate about can be one of the most rewarding experiences you will have. Heaps of organisations rely on volunteer workers to achieve their goals and create genuine change for people in unfortunate circumstances. I volunteer as an admin and training officer for the Emergency Services Cadet Program and also as a Field Operations member in my local SES unit. I also was lucky enough to volunteer as a teacher at a slum school in Cambodia at the beginning of the year, which was an incredible experience. Projects Abroad organised my placement including meals, accommodation and transport by tuk-tuk to my school every day. (They are pretty awesome and have placements in heaps of countries, from Jamaica to Nepal!)

On a local level, there is limitless opportunity so if you’d like to contribute something meaningful these holidays, here is a list of some of the places I’d recommend:

Your local State Emergency Service (SES)
Remember the floods and cyclones that struck QLD at the end of 2010 through to early 2011? All the orange angels you saw on the TV assisting in flood damaged areas were ordinary citizens volunteering their time to help others. In our area, the SES assists with community events (like marshalling Anzac Day parades), assists the police in forensic searches and missing persons searches, and tarps down roofs, fills sandbags, and sets up welfare to feed SES members, firies, ambos and police on large scale operations.

Full training is provided by your local SES unit. First aid, operating communications equipment, working safely at heights, ropes, knots & holdfasts, ladders, storm response, land search, emergency lighting and generators, vertical rescue, flood boat operations, map reading and navigation, chainsaw operations and incident management are just some of the courses available to SES members. The SES-run courses are nationally accredited and are lots of fun if you’re the outdoorsy type. If not, you can always lend a hand in the operations centre, the kitchen or do some admin stuff. There is a job for everyone, regardless of your abilities.

The SES requires an ongoing commitment (usually weekly training) but it allows for a change in personal circumstances which may need you to step away from your post for a while (ie. exam time or an overseas holiday). Some of the other cool stuff I’ve gotten to do includes meeting the Premier at the Volunteers Day at Dreamworld, media liaison, and interviews with Toasted TV. In the case of large scale events (like the cyclone & floods) you can even go away on deployments for up to 5 days to help out where it matters the most. You will get a text message to advise you if there is something on, and if you can go then you just write back. If not, then just ignore the message. Because everyone is a volunteer, the SES understands that you have work/life commitments as well. To apply, call 1300 369 003.

 Emergency Services Cadets
This is a youth development program largely funded by Emergency Management Queensland (EMQ). Cadet programs operate in locations all over Queensland, and the closest ones to Brisbane include Logan, Southwest Brisbane, Ipswich, Fassifern, Goodna and Southport. The program is free for children aged 13-18 (although they can’t join if they’re over 16 as it’s a 4 year program). They deliver similar training packages as the SES ones, and they operate in partnership with the police, fire and ambulance services as well as the SES. All of the courses delivered are nationally accredited training programs, and the cadets can use these to gain points for their QCE (Year 12 certificate).

The cadets participate in team building activities, learn field craft and survival skills, first aid, stretcher handling, ropes, knots & holdfasts, communications, and a host of other training packages. Local and regional camps are popular with the cadets and on a recent regional camp we did an 8 hour hike, 30m abseil, advanced creeking, canyoning, raft-building, canoeing, and rescue scenarios. The next camp I’m going on will include a day with the Rural Fire Brigade and a high ropes course at Mt Tamborine.

Cadets meet weekly in most areas, and to be an adult leader you will need to be 18 years or older, have a valid blue card (free for volunteers) and an interest in youth development. Even if you can only help out for a few nights a year, this is really rewarding and fun volunteer work! Adult leaders also have the opportunity to participate in regional planning weekends, training workshops and other youth development related events. Click here to find out about volunteering in your area.

Bridge to Brisbane
Sunday September 11, 2011. If running/walking 5-10km and fundraising isn’t your thing, how about volunteering some of your time on the day? Legacy is the major charity partner of the Bridge to Brisbane, and they are a charity created to assist families of deceased war veterans. You can volunteer as a drink station attendant, chip removal attendant, t-shirt collection attendant, pedestrian crossing attendant or recovery area volunteer. All volunteers receive a Bridge to Brisbane “Event Crew 2011” t-shirt and cap, certificate of appreciation and will go into the draw to win a 32G Apple iPad 2. Why not apply now?

The Salvation Army is a great organisation running opportunity shops (amongst many other services) throughout Australia. Op shops are places where you can drop off no longer needed furniture, clothing and bric-a-brac, and the Salvos sell all this stuff at heavily discounted prices. Op shops are great for finding vintage books and fabrics, cut price clothing, kooky kitchenware and to stretch your dollar a whole lot further. They are not just for people doing it tough – shopping with a conscience means that 100% of the profits are returned to the community through the Salvation Army providing meals for the hungry, beds for the homeless, help with finding jobs for the unemployed, and refuge for the abused. If you consider yourself a merchandising whiz, a fashionista, a customer service guru or you just have a bit of free time, why not volunteer at a Salvos near you? Click here to search for opportunities.

This is an organisation dedicated to raising awareness of young people with disabilities who are forced to live in aged care homes. They lobby the government for political reform, support families affected with counselling services and in-home care grants, and establish residences to accommodate some of the 6,500 young Australians sadly forced to live in aged care facilities. Find out how you can volunteer by clicking here.

 1,000,000 places
The million opportunities that I promised are everywhere you look, on noticeboards, in the paper and most significantly on the net. If none of these sound like stuff you’d be into, track down something that suits you here or here or even here!

Where do you volunteer? What do you get out of the experience? Or are you looking for some uni students to help out at your non-profit organisation? Comment below!

22 responses

Post a comment
  1. avatar
    Shellie Ward

    I volunteer @ the Brisbane Arts Theatre on Petrie Tce. BATs is a 75 yr old community theatre that offers all kinds of opportunities for involvement including performing, crewing, administration, creating sets, costumes & dozens of other jobs big & small for young & old.

    • avatar

      Awesome! That’s what it’s all about – making a difference for something that you care about. 🙂

    • avatar
      Karen McKubre

      I am a uni student at QUT doing paramedics

  2. avatar

    Great to see such a positive and constructive blog entry.

    It’s our community, why not engage and help make it a better place for everyone? Volunteering can provide fantastic life and work experience as well. 🙂

    People can also contact Volunteering Queensland for ideas.

    • avatar

      Thankyou! And yes – Volunteering Queensland has loads of opportunities to do some cool stuff in the community. I wish I had the time to do more of it myself, but at least encouraging others means the work gets done!

  3. avatar

    Thank you so so much for posting that up! I am into volunteering back home in Malaysia and i have no idea where to start after coming to Brisbane. Now i know! =)

  4. avatar

    Hi there,

    I was just wondering if most volunteer jobs require you to be at least 18 or over? I’m finding it really hard to contribute to my community on a practical level rather than just donating, because I’m only sixteen! Would you have any advice?

    • avatar

      Hi Betty,
      I had the same problem when I was your age! I volunteered at the McIntyre Riding Centre for the Disabled from 13-16 and loved it – it’s out in Moggil which might be too far for you, but I used to work there on Saturday mornings for 4-5 hours and help look after the horses, get them ready for lessons, and assist children aged 5-16 with riding lessons. I loved it! When I was 16 I started volunteering at the Mater Childrens’ Hospital as a ‘Patient Buddy’ – you only have to be 16 to start there (it’s 18 at many others) – which involved going around the wards with toys/games/books and playing with the kids. It was one of the best experiences for me, but if that’s not your kind of thing then there are so many different types of volunteer positions available at the Mater. Info here! http://www.mater.org.au/Home/Support/Volunteers Hope you can find something, volunteering is pretty amazing 🙂

      • avatar
        Vesna skea

        Afternoon looking at the patient buddy program for my daughter as she is 16. She is really interest. Can you give me any heads up!?

  5. avatar
    mic frizz

    i need places that start with Y like Youth or…

  6. avatar

    Hi there, I was just wondering if you knew of any places a 13 year old girl could volunteer? I would pretty much do anything as long as it is worth while and benefits someone. I would love to work with animals or the homeless. Thanks

  7. avatar

    I thought this was a site for ppl who want to volunteer in brisbane, I am29 and i’m looking for a great place to voluteer for ppl in need for help. I have been doing community services for the past 6 yrs for the youth and aged. Can some one pls tell me what or where is the best place to get you’re foot in the door.
    Thank you

  8. avatar

    I am a volunteer firefighter in Buenos Aires, Argentina. And I’m EMT-B. I wonder if anyone can help me,
    I want to go to Australia to get training and do some volunteering,
    anyone know how I can do?
    which visa do I need?
    would appreciate any information.

  9. avatar

    Hi guys, I have just finished school and I’ve also just hit 18.

    My goal since i was 15 has been to become a Youth Worker, I waited until i finished school so that I could put in my all to becoming one but not only that I just have a general interest in doing what I can to make other people happy & the world a better place even if it is significant.

    I would absolutely love to do volunteer work – I think it would be a great opportunity to actually get out there and do something!

    I’d really appreciate it if someone could get back to me.

    Thanks (:

  10. avatar
    Sandra Brown

    I retired last November and looking for volunteer work. I don’t mind anything that’s in the background.
    I would love to put my name down at the Mater, however they state that you have to do 16 weeks continuous, and family matters take me to Adelaide each South Australia Holidays.I also babysit a 15 month old each Wednesday.
    I would appreciate your comments.

  11. avatar

    Hey guys,
    ive got a lot of time on my hands and id like to voluntee somewhere, mostly for the homeless or young children.
    Any suggestions?

  12. avatar

    Hi, I’m looking to start volunteering in Brisbane but I have 2 young children (4yrs and 5 months). I’d really like to have my 4yo join me in volunteering. What types of positions might be available for our scenario? I’d particularly like to help the young, the old or the homeless but I’m not keen on exposing either child to any situation which could cause illness or harm. Any suggestions?

  13. avatar
    Vesna skea

    Looking for a place for my daughter to volunteer as -16 year old. Just moved to Brisbane. Live indooroopillly and being that she is old soul. Wanted to mix with people and do something worth while. She use to work on weekend at country hospital reading books and making kids smile. But here you have to be 18.
    Any similar program’s around here? Help her make friends outside school.

  14. avatar

    Hi guys!!

    I’m finding it super hard to just sign up and volunteer somewhere, I’m really into going overseas with the natural disasters but everything so hard to join these days even volunteer work! Someone Hellpp!

  15. avatar
    laura sullivan

    hi my name is laura and i am still lookig for are job 17 year

  16. avatar

    Hi guys my name is bailey I’m 15 and looking for a place where I can volunteer without needing my parents with me as they work 24/7

    • avatar

      Hey bailey! I am 15, and I volunteer at RDAQ (riding for the disabled queensland). We lead disabled students in lessons on horses! You don’t have to lead the horse, you can side walk with the rider or just groom horses ect! At 16, after 6 months of experience you can also train as a coach!

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