How to apply

Q: How can I volunteer overseas with EWB?

You can apply for one of our vacancies as part of a Volunteer Intake. You will need to address the role’s selection criteria, and show how you meet the required personal attributes. Most positions require you to have a qualification and relevant professional experience. Your professional and personal skills can come from lots of places, such as coaching or volunteering in your local community. Start by joining an EWB Chapter to learn about EWB's approach and build support networks, should you be successful. If you’re not successful the first time - don't be disheartened. Many people are successful in later attempts.

Q: I want to volunteer but I don't have enough experience?

EWB has sent a varied range of volunteers, from graduates to retirees. Skills and experience are important, but our international volunteers also need to be adaptable and able to work in a cross-cultural environment. Most of the work we do is technically fairly simple, as the technical aspects have to be locally appropriate.

Q: Is there an age limit?

You must be at least 18 to participate in EWB's Overseas Program. There is no age limit.

Q: Do I need to be an Australian Citizen to volunteer on an EWB overseas placement?

We require applicants to be either an Australian or New Zealand citizen or permanent resident. The main reason is that a big part of the experience is coming home and sharing your experience to help to create change here. 

Q: What skills are you looking for? Do you only send engineers?

We are looking for a wide range of skills including engineers, architects, planners, and project managers. Roles from non-technical backgrounds such as community development are sometimes needed too. To meet some of our volunteers and see the type of work they do, view the videos on our Youtube site  under the Working with Communities heading.

Q: Can I choose where I go?

Our assignments are determined by EWB's program strategy and the needs requested by our local partners in South East Asia and Timor-Leste. We encourage you to be flexible about where you work, as there may be opportunities to utilise your skills in roles and locations you did not initially apply for.

Q: DOES EWB SUPPORT ACCOMPANIED VOLUNTEERS?

Unfortunately EWB does not have the capacity to financially support a volunteer’s partner and children. Partners can be a key support for volunteers in-country, though we ask you to consider practical considerations for your partner and children (e.g. volunteering opportunities and accommodation for partners, insurance, etc). Please contact EWB if you wish to discuss this further.

Q: What does EWB provide?

EWB provides pre departure training, reasonable living and accommodation expenses, regular contact and support, connection with a support chapter and knowledge hub, medical, travel and insurance expenses, links with other volunteers and flexible travel dates.

Q: What does EWB not provide?

EWB does not provide a salary, money to cover at-home expenses whilst away, independent or partner/ dependent travel costs, living allowances for partners or dependents or vehicle transport.

Q: Does EWB have a child protection policy?

A: Engineers Without Borders (EWB) is committed to the safety and well being of all children. We support the rights of children and will act without hesitation to ensure a child safe environment is maintained. All volunteers are expected to sign off on the Child Protection Policy. The policy can be downloaded here.

Q: I am travelling overseas and would love to visit a project or help out for a short period - is this possible?

EWB usually does not accommodate short term placements. Long term placements are more productive as they enable volunteers to understand the community, identify local strengths and resources and develop strong relationships.  EWB and our community partners devote time, training and support to our volunteers, which results in them becoming more effective as they stay in-country over longer periods. Short term volunteers have occasionally supported long-term EWB volunteers but these are rare, usually done as consultancies, and with special approval from multiple EWB and in-country groups.

Q: What countries do you work in? Why don't you work in other places?

EWB currently works in South East Asia and Timor-Leste, and sends approximately 20 volunteers overseas per year. We prioritise quality over quantity in our placements and continually ask ourselves how we can maximise our potential to create regional impact.

Logistical considerations like visas, safety and cost of living are also important. We focus on countries where we have strong relationships, and where volunteers and community partners can support each other and share learnings, resulting in better quality work on the ground. We are always open to new country partnerships, but we carefully review these in light of our resources and the need for strong, mutually-beneficial relationships wherever we work. 

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Before you go

Q: WHAT SUPPORT DOES EWB PROVIDE BEFORE I GO?

Participants on all EWB placements receive return airfares, visas, insurance and living allowances to cover food, transport and accommodation. You will also participate in a comprehensive pre-departure briefing and debrief when you return.

Before you go, we'll put you in touch with other volunteers and staff to guide you with your preparation. You will need to organise a visit to your doctor, make sure your passport and vaccinations are up to date, then prepare yourself with enough basics for your in-country stint. You can speed up your learning by reading as much as you can about your country of assignment, asking EWB for information, and reflecting on how to adapt your attitudes and work skills to another culture.

Q: WHAT DOES THE LIVING ALLOWANCE COVER?

The living allowance may be paid by EWB, the partner organisation, or both. We set living allowances based on the cost of living in a particular country. The allowance will enable you to live a moderately comfortable lifestyle, but will not enable you to meet financial commitments at home, such as a mortgage.

Q: WHERE WILL I STAY?

In some cases, accommodation may be provided by the partner organisation, otherwise EWB incorporates the accommodation allowance into the living allowance. You may have shared or individual accommodation, depending on availability and the length of your placement.

Q: IS LANGUAGE TRAINING PROVIDED?

EWB will help you organise language tuition when you arrive in country, and provides you with a capped language allowance to support your ongoing learning.

Q: ARE THERE EWB STAFF IN COUNTRY?

Yes. We have a Country Manager for Cambodia and Vietnam, and another Country Manager for Timor-Leste. They will support you during your placement.

Q: CAN I RETURN TO AUSTRALIA IF THERE IS A CRISIS AT HOME?

If you need to return home urgently, it is important to discuss this with both the partner organisation and EWB. Depending on the circumstances, we may be able to cover your travel costs through insurance.

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What happens in country?

Q: WHAT DOES A TYPICAL WORK DAY INVOLVE?

Take a look at our YouTube site under Working with Communities for stories from our field volunteers. It really depends on who you work for and the stage of your placement. We try to avoid volunteers working in isolation. They generally have a close working relationship with one or more people in our partner organisation. Some days you might be in the office, and on other days you might be out in communities or conducting and doing site visits.

Q: HOW LONG DO I GO FOR?

Each placement has a specified time period,which has been determined by the partner organisation and EWB as being adequate for completing the work involved. Most EWB assignments are between 12 – 20 months, though this is dependent on need.

Q: HOW WILL MY WORK BE ASSESSED?

After you arrive, you will work with your partner organisation and EWB to agree on an assignment work plan and objectives, based on your position description and the partner organisation’s needs. EWB holds regular review sessions with you and the organisation on your progress and discusses with the partner how the benefits from your work can be sustained.

Q: WILL I HAVE HOLIDAYS?

EWB volunteers are given pro rata leave of 20 days per annum. Leave is taken with the consent of the partner organisation. We encourage volunteers to take leave every three months. EWB volunteers also observe the public holidays practiced in-country, in line with partner organisation staff. 

Q: TRAVEL - WILL I GET TO TRAVEL IN THE HOST COUNTRY?

This depends on your program, the nature of your placement, and the location of your host community. Some volunteers stay in the same community or location throughout their program. Other volunteers undertake mobile projects with visits to a number of villages or communities.

Q: TRAVEL - CAN I TRAVEL BEFORE OR AFTER MY PROJECT?

Volunteers are welcome to travel before or after their placement. However, please keep EWB informed and ensure you can attend the pre-departure briefing, you arrive at the right time in-country, and your travel plans adhere to visa requirements. 

Q: WHAT ARE MY RESPONSIBILITIES AS AN EWB VOLUNTEER?

Your position description outlines your role, alongside a detailed work plan that you will develop with your partner organisation. Working cooperatively and sensitively with your host organisation and colleagues is very important. Your relationship with your partner organisation will strongly influence the effectiveness of your assignment. You are also an ambassador of EWB, your organisation and Australian volunteers. EWB volunteers must comply with EWB’s Code of Conduct & EWB's Child Protection Policy.

Q: WHAT HAPPENS IF I DO NOT COMPLETE MY ASSIGNMENT?

A: Each EWB volunteer is part of a Country Program Strategy which has been negotiated with local organisations based on their expressed needs. If you leave before completing your assignment, it may affect EWB's program, community expectations, and your host organisation. However, early departures are considered on a case-by-case basis.

EWB also incurs substantial costs for every volunteer we place. Pre-departure costs alone can be in the region of $2000. If you leave before your agreed term, we are not obliged to provide further financial support and you may be liable to refund all expenses. If problems arise, please discuss them with your Country Manager and your host organisation before making any decisions.

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Health and secruity 

Q: HOW CAN I STAY HEALTHY DURING MY ASSIGNMENT?

Your health is your responsibility when you are on assignment. Depending on where you are living, there may be an increased risk of contracting some illnesses, including tropical diseases. Health risks can be minimised thorough health preparation, to ensure you are as healthy as possible before leaving. This includes vaccination updates, specialist checks (dental, skin, optical) and routine screening tests. 

Taking sensible precautions when you are in-country can also minimise the risk of getting sick. This includes strict basic hygiene, attention to the standard of food and water, mosquito bite prevention, stress management techniques, etc. Your doctor and travel medicine specialist can give you more guidance on how to stay healthy while you are on your EWB placement.

Q: WHAT HAPPENS IF I GET SICK ON ASSIGNMENT?

EWB partners with an agency that can organise 24-hour medical assistance. All EWB volunteers receive an emergency card prior to departure. If you get sick you can call the number on this card, and the agency will organise access to a registered medical practitioner or a hospital if necessary. If the agency considers it necessary, a medical evacuation may be arranged.

Q: WILL I BE SAFE?

There are security issues in every country. We monitor security very closely through our official and local contacts and are experienced at responding to situations that change rapidly. We will also work with you to develop your own risk management, safety and security plan. 

Acting sensibly, understanding the culture, observing local social behaviours, establishing credible friendships and seeking advice from the local community are very important to strengthening your personal security.

Q: WHAT HAPPENS IF THERE IS A CRISIS IN COUNTRY?

EWB will provide you with an in-country emergency contact that will be available at all hours. We will work with you to develop an emergency plan and organise an evacuation if necessary.