In 1997, the Australian Government designed the Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development (AYAD) volunteer program and following a two year pilot tendered it on the open market, selecting Scope Global as the service provider in 2001. The AYAD program was a signature initiative of the Australian Government that aimed to strengthen mutual understanding between Australia and countries in Asia, the Pacific and Africa whilst making a positive contribution to development. The Program achieved these aims by placing skilled young Australians (18-30) on short-term volunteer assignments of 3-12 months duration in developing countries in Asia, the Pacific and sub-Saharan Africa. AYAD volunteers worked with local counterparts in host organisations to achieve sustainable development outcomes through capacity building, skills transfer and institutional strengthening.
Scope Global was contracted by the Australian Government to manage all aspects of AYAD between 2002 up until the retirement of the AYAD brand and program in 2014. After an evaluation by the Office of Development Effectiveness (ODE), this decision was taken to retire the AYAD brand in order to consolidate all Australian Government funded international volunteering under a single brand, Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) which Scope Global continues to manage.
Key AYAD facts:
- Scope Global supported more than 4300 young Australians to live and work overseas in 23 countries throughout Asia, the Pacific and Africa
- More than 2000 overseas organisations, including grassroots civil society organisations, national and international NGOs, education institutions and multilateral organisations, hosted an AYAD
- More than 4000 returned AYADs are part of Scope Global’s Australian Volunteers Alumni Community
More than 350 Australian organisations supported one or more young Australians on their volunteering journey
With minimal fanfare, the Australian Youth Ambassadors for Development (AYAD) brand was retired as of July 1, in line with the recommendation of the Office of Development Effectiveness evaluation released earlier this year.
The former AYAD program has now been rolled into the wider Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) program, without a dedicated stream or assignments for people under 30.
If you try to go to AYAD’s website, you simply get redirected to Austraining’s main volunteer site for its portion of the AVID program (AVID is also delivered by Red Cross and Australian Volunteers International). There is now a special tab for ‘early career opportunities’—these are assignments that require three years or less of professional experience. But they are open to anyone regardless of age.
During our forum on the ODE evaluation in March, there were questions raised on whether there would be any kind of quota on assignments targeted to younger people, as there were concerns that they would not be able to compete with more experienced candidates. From a quick glance, it is hard to tell if the proportion of early career assignments is similar to what it was in the past and there has been no mention in public of any kind of quota.
Considering that the evaluation advocated for more involvement of even younger people than the current AYAD average (Stephen Howes criticised this in one of his posts on the evaluation), this seems like a curious way to achieve this.
In its management response to the evaluation, DFAT itself also committed to “expand the availability of volunteering to those from regional and rural areas, Indigenous Australians and youth from the younger age range (18 to 24 years of age compared to AYAD’s 18 to 30 years of age)”. It is still unclear how this will be carried out.
With or without AYAD, AVID is still confusing anyway. For outsiders, the whole Austraining versus Red Cross versus AVI thing makes very little sense. AYAD seemed like the stronger brand compared to AVID, with a more vibrant alumni network—yet AYAD is no more.
It will be interesting to see in any future evaluation or surveys what impact the elimination of the AYAD stream has on the overall demographics of volunteers. That is, if these reports are made public—access to such reports has been an issue in the past.
(You can read our previous posts on the volunteer program here)
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