One of the best parts of my job is meeting the workers from Kiribati, Tuvalu and Nauru, involved in the Program. I particularly enjoy seeing them grow into their new jobs and life in Australia. They make an astonishing journey coming to Australia, leaving behind their families, children and community. They do this for the opportunity to gain skills and experience, and ensure that their families have money for education, health and household needs.

On International Volunteer Day 2017, Australian volunteer Brad Timms serves as a shining example of the personal, professional and profound lasting benefits of international volunteering.

Each year more than 1,000 Australians donate their time and skills to volunteer in developing countries through the Government’s flagship Australian Volunteers program, helping to make our region more stable, secure and prosperous. On this International Volunteer Day I thank all Australian Volunteers – past and present – for their selfless contribution to regional growth and prosperity.

The Jessore clinic was full of women and children of all ages and the clinic’s triage nurse was busy conducting eye examinations. I soon met an elderly patient named Monowara. She sat in the waiting room with a kind smile on her face. I immediately noticed opacity in her eyes – a tell-tale sign of cataracts.

On 19 November, take a moment to think about the 4.5 billion people who live without a household toilet that safely disposes of their waste. Even better, get inspired to do something about it.

In the 1960s young Papua New Guineans training for positions as senior public servants at the Administrative College talked about the future of an independent country. The informal discussion group, known as the ‘Bully Beef Club’, comprised an exceptional group of Papua New Guinea’s future independence leaders, including the first Prime Minister, Sir Michael Somare.

Considering that over 100 million people are estimated to have been affected worldwide this year by extreme weather events such as floods, storms, drought and heatwaves, a lot can be learned from Australia’s efforts to integrate risk and resilience considerations into planning, policies and programs of all government departments.