Volunteers are an important part of the team at Billabong Sanctuary and we welcome volunteers from all walks of life.
We have volunteer opportunities available in a range of areas, from assisting our Rangers with their day-to-day duties, to keeping our grounds in good shape and providing educational opportunities and resources.
Our volunteers spend their time at Billabong Sanctuary for a variety of reasons such as acquiring industry experience, completing University or TAFE placements or gaining the satisfaction that comes from working in a great environment with a great team.
OUR VOLUNTEER PROGRAMS
Here at Billabong Sanctuary we have two types of volunteer programs available: Fixed Term and Continuing.
The Fixed Term program is for a set duration of time (minimum of 10 working days) and is suitable for those seeking to complete a University or TAFE placement, international visitors who have a couple of weeks to spare and would like to get an authentic Australian experience and school leavers wishing to gain some industry experience.
The Continuing program is an ongoing arrangement with a minimum of an 8 hour day per fortnight (although at least one day a week is preferred). This is ideal for those living in Townsville who would like to gain the satisfaction of a long-term relationship with the Sanctuary, its staff and animals and provides opportunities for the development of advanced and specialist skills as part of our volunteer training program.
WHAT DO OUR VOLUNTEERS DO?
Depending on which area you would like to volunteer in, broadly speaking our volunteers undertake the following activities:
- Preparing enclosures and the grounds for daily visitors.This includes raking, cleaning, feeding and of course, picking up poo!
- Preparing food and treats for our animals (including carnivores)
- Assisting the Rangers in presenting our daily wildlife talks and facilitating animal interactions
- Assisting in the maintenance of the grounds
- Assisting the Rangers with their duties, such as weighing our animals and undertaking health checks
- Helping our visitors get the most out of their time at the Sanctuary
- Assisting the Rangers with tour groups
- Other specialised activities, such as preparing educational material, gardening, construction and visitor assistance.
Please note that a lot of the work undertaken by both staff and volunteers does not involve direct contact with animals, but rather is focussed on cleaning, maintenance and food preparation.
Billabong Sanctuary offers a structured volunteer training program, in which volunteers are trained in certain activities and are able to progress through Basic, Intermediate and Advanced Skills and for appropriate volunteers, to Specialist Skills. The amount and type of animal interaction that volunteers are involved with generally increases with progression through the skill levels. Volunteers in the fixed term program will generally reach the Intermediate skill level.
Volunteers are normally expected to work 7.30am-4.00pm unless other arrangements have been agreed to by the Volunteer Coordinator and in all weather conditions such as heat and rain unless notified otherwise (e.g. cyclone).
AM I ELIGIBLE TO VOLUNTEER?
To be eligible to volunteer at Billabong Sanctuary you must be:
- 18 years old or over (school leavers who are 17 may be accepted on a case by case basis)
- able to find your own transport to and from Billabong Sanctuary (it is about 20km south of central Townsville)
- available and able to work at the agreed times and days, regardless of weather conditions
- physically capable of performing all or most of the tasks required for the area in which you will be volunteering
- able to listen to and follow instruction
- polite, well-presented and able to interact appropriately with our visitors
- a non-smoker
- able to provide a deposit of $50 in cash after your trial day (does not apply for formally arranged placements for University or TAFE)
HOW DO I APPLY?
The first step in applying to volunteer is to complete the online Expression of Interest form (click HERE). Following receipt of the form, our Volunteer Coordinator will get in touch to arrange an interview (normally face to face on site).
The interview usually lasts about 15 minutes and allows us to explain what we expect from our volunteers, what our volunteers can expect from us and to answer any questions you may have. Following this we determine at day on which you are going to start, which will be your trial day.
If your trial day is successful, you will be required to pay the $50 cash deposit and you will be given your Billabong Sanctuary volunteer t-shirt and cap. You will also be asked to complete a Volunteer Registration Form, so we have all of your important details.
Once you have completed your trial day you will also be required to download and read the Volunteer Manual (see below).
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: What do I get out of it?
A: If you have read this far, chances are you are pretty keen to volunteer and are self-motivated to do so, however we recognise that volunteering is a commitment and you are doing it for a reason!
For some volunteers, the reward is working in an environment that they enjoy, getting to interact with our animals, educating and informing our visitors and learning from a great team. For other volunteers, the focus will be on gaining industry experience and potentially some specialised skills and knowledge, while for others it will provide the opportunity to complete a required component of their education.
Whatever your reason for volunteering your time and effort will be appreciated. As outlined above we have a formal training program, which means that you will gain specific skills and knowledge and be able to interact and work with more of our animals as you progress through the program. Longer term volunteers may also be able to specify certain skills they wish to learn or animals they wish to work with, which is facilitated through the training program.
For some volunteers, the Volunteer Coordinator will be able to provide a reference for job applications. Additionally, for volunteers in the continuing program, rewards such as fuel vouchers based on hours completed are also provided.
Q: Do I get to work with all the animals?
A: Billabong Sanctuary houses a number of dangerous animals, such as venomous snakes and large estuarine crocodiles. For obvious reasons, volunteers are never permitted to work with these animals. For some of our other animals, such as koalas, while volunteers are permitted to supervise public interaction, they are never permitted to pick up or handle a koala. For some animals, such as wombats or dingoes you will be able to work with them once you have successfully completed the appropriate training.
Q: Why do I have to pay a $50 deposit?
A: Volunteers are asked for a $50 deposit to help cover the costs of providing the uniform and training. $5 of the deposit goes to Safe Haven, an animal conservation organisation that Billabong Sanctuary supports. If you successfully complete a probationary period (80 hours) then you will receive $20 of your deposit back. Billabong Sanctuary also provides rewards for its longer term volunteers, such as fuel vouchers.
Q: What do I have to wear?
A: Volunteers are required to wear shorts or trousers that are suitable for the work being undertaken (no denim please) and a pair of sturdy, enclosed shoes. Leather shoes such as boots are recommended where the work will include hosing, raking, etc. Billabong will provide a t-shirt and cap after your trial day.
Q: What do I need to bring?
A: Volunteers are provided with a sandwich for lunch and are able to have coffee/tea or slushies from the shop. All other food such as morning tea or special requirements must either be brought by the volunteer or purchased at the shop. Water is available on site, however it is bore water which is not to everybody’s taste, therefore you may wish to bring your own water (we would recommend at least 2 litres or more during summer). We have a fridge in which you can keep food and water cold. The Sanctuary also provides sun screen.
Q: Will volunteering lead to a job at Billabong Sanctuary?
A: While we occasionally do employ people who have volunteered at the Sanctuary, this is the exception rather than the rule. You should not undertake a volunteer position at Billabong Sanctuary with the expectation of employment. If you are interested in working in the captive animal industry, gaining experience through volunteering can be a great first step for your career and may help your chances of gaining employment in a similar facility.
Q: What if I need time off?
A: We understand that people get sick, have an exciting holiday to go on or travel home to visit family, so time off is fine as long as you give us plenty of notice, or send us a message on the day if you are sick. If you are not able to commit to a regular time frame for volunteering it may be best to consider leaving until you are able to commit again, but this should be discussed with the Volunteer Coordinator first.
Q: Is there any public transport?
A: Unfortunately Nome (where Billabong Sanctuary is located), does not have any regular public transport options, therefore you need to secure your own transport to and from the Sanctuary. We do not recommend that volunteers ride bicycles or scooters as the Bruce Highway is a major road with a 100km/hr speed limit and many large trucks travelling along it.
Q: Do you provide accommodation?
A: Billabong does not have any accommodation facilities and is not able to provide accommodation for volunteers.
Q: Does Billabong Sanctuary have a School Work Experience program?
A: No – volunteers must normally be at least 18 years old and the minimum time frame for volunteering is at least 10 working days.
The Volunteer Manual is required reading for all volunteers and is available for download here
GET IN CONTACT WITH US
If you have a question that has not been answered above or need to get in contact with us about volunteering please email firstname.lastname@example.org, attention Volunteer Coordinator or call us on (07) 4778 8344