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A Foodbank Victoria volunteer bringing a food hamper to a family.
Photograph: Food Bank Victoria

Where to volunteer in Melbourne

Been thinking of giving your time to those in need, but not sure where to start? These worthy causes are always looking for helping hands

Adena Maier
Written by
Adena Maier

If you have a bit of free time on your hands, consider using some of it to support one of Melbourne's myriad not-for-profit organisations that provide services across areas like hunger, youth homelessness, animal care and refugee support. We've rounded up twelve of our favourite organisations that would love a helping hand, and there are options that suit all levels of skill, time commitments and interests. If you're keen to do some good, have a scroll through opportunities ranging from providing vocational mentorship and participating in community gardening efforts to creating meal packages and caring for animals.

Volunteering opportunities in Melbourne

1. Adult Multicultural Education Services (AMES) 

Since its establishment in 1951, AMES has been providing services to newly arrived migrants and refugees to help them settle into life in Victoria. While it began as an English language training resource, it has since expanded into providing vocation education, employment services and assistance with immigration cases. You can provide your assistance as a settlement volunteer, where you'd be assisting with everything from shopping and navigating public transport to locating local services like Centrelink and Medicare. Or, if you're experienced in the fields of food science and technology, architecture, urban design or research science, you can donate your time as a skilled mentor

How to get involved: Contact AMES and set up an interview with the volunteer coordinator.

2. Asylum Seeker Resource Centre

Each year, thousands of people flee human rights abuses, war and persecution in their homeland to try and seek asylum in Australia. Unfortunately, many of them are forced to either turn back or are held in inhumane detention centres across Australia or offshore on Manus Island and Christmas Island. If you're frustrated by the federal government's treatment of those seeking a better life, then put that frustration to good use by volunteering at the ASRC. There are several volunteer opportunities available, ranging from skilled mentorship and administrative assistance to generalised help like working in the foodbank. 

How to get involved: Head to the ASRC's website to view available roles or express your interest in participating in the next volunteer recruitment round.

3. Edgar’s Mission

Did you know that Australian animal cruelty laws protect household animals like cats and dogs, but exclude farm animals like cows, chickens, sheep and pigs? Out of frustration that certain animals were deemed worthy of living happy and healthy lives while others were subjected to cruelty, Pam Ahern founded Edgar's Mission as a sanctuary for rescued factory farm animals. Animal lovers are welcome to swing by the lush 60 acre property to assist with everything from cleaning paddocks and making meals for visitors to maintaining the sanctuary's garden and managing transactions. 

How to get involved: All volunteers must first attend a 'helping hands' day, after which they're eligible to apply for regular volunteering opportunities. 

Edgar's Mission

4. Mind Australia

Mind is a mental health and wellbeing organisation that provides recovery-focused support to more than 11,000 people each year. To help deliver its services, Mind recruits a fleet of volunteers to assist with everything from one-on-one social support, providing information to carers and working with the helpline service. 

How to get involved: Browse the career portal for volunteer opportunities and submit an application.

5. Sacred Heart Mission

Perusing the pre-loved wares at Sacred Heart is always a tonne of fun, and knowing that your purchase helps provide assistance to those experiencing homelessness or disadvantage is the cherry on top. If Sacred Heart's mission speaks to you, there are several ways that you can donate your time including working at one of the retail shops, preparing meals and being a companion for residents in their rooming houses.

How to get involved: Fill out the volunteer form with your personal details, availability and job preferences. 

Person serving food at Lentil As Anything


The Centre for Education and Research in Environmental Strategies (CERES) is an award-winning, not-for-profit sustainability centre that aims to make people fall in love with our gorgeous planet. Got a green thumb and a passion for the environment? Put those interests to good use by volunteering for community-based projects like harvesting olives and making communal olive oil or propagating and planting produce.

How to get involved: Check the CERES website for current opportunities, and if you find one that interests you, lodge an application to volunteer. 

7. Lost Dogs' Home

Since 1910, the Lost Dogs' Home has worked tirelessly to provide a safe haven to lost and abandoned dogs and cats. Each year, upwards of 16,000 critters pass through its doors in search of shelter and care, and volunteers are the lifeblood of the shelter. Volunteer as an animal attendant and help clean pens and enclosures, feed the animals or provide them with enrichment through play and walks. You can even provide administrative help by taking phone calls, booking appointments and helping people choose their new furry family member. If you have experience in behaviour training or as a veterinary clinician, there are specialist volunteer roles available, and you can also offer your assistance across areas like foster care, groundskeeping, photography and more. 

How to get involved: Read about all of the volunteer opportunities on the website and then submit an expression of interest.

Men gardening at Ceres

8. Make-A-Wish Foundation

Since 1985, Make-A-Wish and its team of wish-granters have been making dreams come true for children experiencing life-threatening conditions and illnesses. If you're eager to become a sick child's very own genie, you can volunteer with your local Make-A-Wish branch to support local fundraising events, raise awareness and help bring local wishes to life. 

How to get involved: Head to the website to explore local volunteer opportunities and express your desire to get involved.

9. St Vincent de Paul Society

You may know Vinnies as a series of sprawling, blue-and-white painted op shops filled with treasures, but did you know that it's rooted in a volunteer-run organisation focused on social injustice? Volunteers come from all walks of life working together to give hope and support to over 300,000 Victorians every year. Volunteer to man the retail shops, work a soup van, answer phone calls, provide mentorship and more. 

How to get involved: Learn more about volunteering through the Vinnies website.

10. Melbourne City Mission

MCM was established in the 1850s during the gold rush as an organisation providing relief for impoverished families. While a lot has changed over the last 150 years, the core mission has remained the same and MCM has become Victoria's largest provider of youth homeless services. The organisation also provides assistance across areas including disability care, palliative care and education services, and volunteers can assist with everything from teaching young people how to drive, taking groups with mild to moderate disabilities to the movies and providing companionship. 

How to get involved: Visit the website to see what opportunities are currently available and to apply.

Stocking shelves at foodbank

11. Foodbank Victoria

Did you know that one in six Australian adults reported going hungry at some point in 2021? Foodbank is the country's largest food relief organisation, and last year it sourced enough food for nearly 90 million meals for those in need. The Foodbank team is small, so it relies heavily on having a consistent fleet of volunteers to assist with sorting and packing food for distribution and providing healthy lunches to students. 

How to get involved: You can learn about individual or group volunteering here.

12. OzHarvest

OzHarvest began in 2004 after founder Ronni Kahn realised just how much food was going to waste from her events business and she felt compelled to do something about it. She started with just one van in Sydney that she'd use to rescue and donate food to local charities and the organisation quickly grew into a national leading food rescue organisation. Volunteers are fondly referred to as the 'yellow army' and help out with everything from loading and unloading the delivery van, fundraising, running market stalls and more.

How to get involved: Keen to join the ‘yellow army’? Head to the website.

Looking to donate money instead of time? Support these refugee-run food businesses in Melbourne.

Look after the environment, too

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