Retirees Volunteering in Aboriginal Communities


For many retirees hitting the road with a caravan is more than just an extended holiday but a chance to experience the real Australia. An increasing number of grey nomads are seizing the opportunity to stop off and lend a hand to our Aboriginal communities during their Aussie odyssey.

Retirees like Bruce Bland, 70, from Rose Bay, Sydney describe the experience “like a university degree”.

“It has taught me so much about our Indigenous citizens and the vast range of difficulties they face in remote locations. I empathise with them and see that with a hand up (not a hand out) they can achieve their goals and lead fulfilled lives,” he writes on the Indigenous Community Volunteers website.

Organizations like Indigenous Community Volunteers (ICV) place retired professional among a community on assignments such as writing funding application. They also match projects and occasionally create assignments according to skills.

Dr. Barry Kentish, a semi-retired zoologist and beekeeper from Ballarat, recently completed worked in the Wiluna community in Western Australia creating a bee farm.

 “The people of Wiluna were very accommodating. I was really lucky to meet some local people who took me out while I was there, they even took me hunting!” say Dr. Kentish.

Other Organizations & Opportunities

The Smith Family support more than 4,500 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people through their Learning for Life program. Volunteer tutors are particularly appreciated to improve their literacy and numeracy.  

In Western Australia Curtin University runs a hands-on program in remote indigenous communities such as Leonora and Laverton. These include literacy and numeracy `buddy ‘programs as well as restorative and environmental projects.

Retired professional can look to Australian run organization which targets their specifics areas. For retired medical professional the Fred Hallows Foundation is still working amongst indigenous communities through outback Australia. For teachers the Cathy Freeman Foundation is working to improve indigenous education. These organizations don`t advertise volunteer positions but rather look for funds raising in order to hire full-time professionals. However, it is worth an email to see whether they have any particular positions that need filling, paid or unpaid.

But it`s not just for white collared retiree either.  Aboriginal community stores around Alice Springs occasionally advertise for volunteers already in the area with experience running small businesses, gardening or mechanics. These positions can be found in the local press or even in the volunteer section of

What You Get

Sometimes the volunteer is offered powered caravan site in lieu of payment. In other cases they may not be able to live in the actual community and have to commute each day from a nearby town with a caravan park. But the main rewards of volunteering are experience, friendship and knowledge. 

What you need

It goes without saying that that volunteers will have stringent background checks done on them and be asked to supply a police background check whether they you are working with children or just in a  community where children will be about. 

In addition they need relevant skills and experience relevant, an open mind and heart, flexibility, a can-do attitude and time to dedicate.


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