Palms Executive Director Roger O’Halloran shares what we do, in which countries we have partnerships, our unique approach to alleviating poverty, how to get involved and more.

Application and Recruitment 

  1. What do Palms international program participants do?
  2. For what skills/professions does Palms recruit?
  3. Can non-Australians apply for a Palms Assignment?
  4. What is Palms’ recruitment process?

What do Palms international program participants do?

In a nutshell – professional skill development. Palms Australia recruits skilled Australians to meet requests from our partner communities overseas. Participants mentor a local staff member of a community organisation for two years to build their capacity in their role. Read more about our development philosophy.

For what skills/professions does Palms recruit?

The talents we recruit are determined by the requests we receive from community organisations overseas. We do not have our own priority areas. Those undertaking assignments include educators, accountants, managers, tradespeople, agriculturalists, IT specialists, community and social workers, lawyers, doctors, and health workers. If you don’t see your skills requested in our current opportunities, submit an enquiry in the form to the right and we’ll see where your skills can fit.

Remember, your skills are more than your current job title so share with us any talents you have that you feel confident that you can share with others.

Can non-Australians apply for a Palms assignment?

All candidates for an assignment abroad must complete Palms Australia’s pre-departure training in Sydney. Due to current Australian visa regulations, only candidates with Australian/New Zealand residency or citizenship are eligible to apply.

What is Palms’ recruitment process?

We want to ensure we are providing the best possible candidate for our partners. We also want to ensure program participants are prepared and committed for the challenges of living and working away from home for up to two years. For these reasons, our recruitment process can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Successful applicants must complete:

  1. An enquiry briefly outlining skills and expertise through our ‘Enquire about an Assignment Abroad’ form (available right and on all current opportunity posts)
  2. An application form exploring personal competencies and suitability for an assignment abroad (sent to you after we receive your enquiry)
  3. An in-depth interview with Palms’ recruitment staff
  4. Reference and Working with Children checks (for those who may work with children)
  5. Medical clearance and vaccinations appropriate for the country of placement
  6. Attainment of work permit and visa for the location of placement (with support from Palms team)
  7. Palms orientation course, held in January and July each year.

Your assignment is not confirmed until you have completed these steps. Applicants who will be working in a school may be required to wait until the commencement of the next school year to begin their assignment.

On Assignment

  1. In which countries does Palms work?
  2. How long are Palms assignments abroad?
  3. Is there any age restriction on participants?
  4. How much are participants paid?
  5. How is the program funded?
  6. Can I take my family/partner on assignment?
  7. What additional support does Palms give during the placement?
  8. Is an assignment abroad safe and secure?
  9. Do participants get holidays?
  10. How do participants stay healthy on assignment?

In which countries does Palms work?

Palms Australia has previously worked in various countries in Africa, Asia, Central America and The Pacific. The countries we in which we work vary from year to year, depending on the requests from our partner communities. To find out where our current program participants are working, visit our Projects page.

How long are Palms assignments abroad?

Palms Australia’s assignments are two years long and may be extended to 3 years. We rarely, if ever, send a participant abroad for less than one year. The main reason for this is that it takes at least six months, if not a year, to build your capacity to live and work effectively in the community.

While you’re settling in, you’re also developing an understanding of the culture, learning a new language, building a network, and becoming familiar with the resources available to the organisation. This enables you to have a better idea of how you can best impart your skills to your colleagues.

Two years may seem like a long time, but many of our participants reflect that the first year passes quickly, and it’s often not until the second year that they make the most impact. Palms understands that not everyone can commit to two years, and so one-year placements are possible where host organisations agree.

Is there any age restriction on participants?

No. Program participants need to have sufficient experience and/or qualifications in their specific field to be of real value to overseas communities. Therefore, we do not often recruit school leavers or graduates, unless they can demonstrate these skills and qualifications.

An international assignment at any time can be rewarding and fulfilling, but our older participants (who are in good health) often find it provides a wonderful opportunity to share their vast experience and knowledge.

How much are participants paid?

All program participants will receive a basic living allowance. It is generally equivalent to a local wage and provides sufficient funds to cover food and personal items, but will not cover expenses back home (e.g. mortgage payments). The exact amount of this allowance varies in each assignment location and is occasionally reviewed to reflect the cost of living changes in your assignment location.

How is the program funded?

Palms Australia is funded through private donations, community partnerships and grants from affiliated organisations. Palms Australia is funded by generous individual donors (many of whom have been program participants) community partnerships and grants from affiliated organisations. We encourage participants to connect the Palms team with a Support Team who take responsibility for engagement of their Australian community in multi-faceted (including financial) support of them and the host community.

Can I take my family/partner on assignment?

Yes. However, Palms Australia does not provide additional support for family members. Where possible, we may be able to secure an assignment for a suitably qualified family member in the same location. We are available to share insights on whether a particular assignment location is suitable for your family (with consideration for schooling, healthcare facilities, etc.).

What support does Palms give during the placement?

Palms support begins before your departure at our comprehensive orientation course. Here you will meet fellow program participants and the Palms team, who have travelled the road before you. Our team will link you up with returned participants who have either been in the same placement or location as yours, who will support you right throughout the placement, especially during the first six months when so much is new.

On a two year assignment, you will have a living allowance, pastoral support, and a comprehensive insurance policy. We prefer to cluster our participants so that there is always another Palms participant nearby. Our host organisations also provide a level of support when you first arrive and throughout the placement. They will nominate someone from their community to provide care and safety for the duration of your placement. Members of the Palms team will visit you at least once during your placement.

In addition to the stipend, Palms keeps in regular contact with all of our program participants. We are always on hand to provide support and guidance via email and phone when needed. All participants will have access to internet and be within mobile service range. We encourage participants to keep regular contact with us so we can discuss how they are transitioning on a professional and personal level.

Is an assignment abroad safe and secure?

Palms has a comprehensive scoping process that we conduct as part of our risk management strategy to ensure there is an understanding of the security risks. Palms completes a locality risk assessment for every placement. We also connect with the country’s DFAT post to make sure they are aware of Palms program participants and their placement objectives.  All participants are registered with DFAT, and any updates that the Australian government provides regarding safety and security is passed on.  Within the first few weeks of arrival, participants and their host organisation complete and a personal security plan. Of course, it’s not possible to remove every risk. However, we do attempt to prepare and support you to the best of our ability.

In some locations, participants will have their own house, in other locations they may share with a local family (with their own room) or community where meals can be shared or provided. Palms conducts an accommodation check before your arrival to ensure that your accommodation is safe and secure.

Do participants get holidays?

Yes. The amount depends on the organisation you are working with. Teachers usually have school holidays similar to those in Australia. Most other positions receive around four to five weeks of annual leave per year.

How do participants stay healthy on assignment?

Palms provides a comprehensive health workshop during our orientation course, conducted by one of our tropical medicine practitioners. Program participants are also required to undertake a medical health check prior to accepting any placement. They are advised that specific health concerns should be discussed with a travel doctor or their general practitioner. Participants are also advised on particular health issues relevant to their placement location, and what measures they need to take to stay healthy.

Returning Home

  1. What support does Palms provide when participants return home?
  2. I’m not ready for an assignment right now. How else can I be involved?

What sort of support does Palms provide when participants return home?

Palms provides participants with post-placement resources about three months prior to their return home. These resources are designed to help participants reflect on their experience while they are still working. It also gives them the opportunity to discuss this preparation with Palms, and have any questions answered.

Once a participant returns home, Palms will provide an initial placement debrief and connect newly returned participants with other returnees from the same area.  In addition, a Re-Entry Workshop is scheduled each year for former participants. It provides an opportunity to hear the stories of other returnees and to process their experience within a reflective framework.  We often invite our returnees to engage with the preparation of new participants. Former participants are also invited to be involved in our wider network.

I’m not ready for an assignment right now. How else can I be involved?

Palms Australia relies strongly on community support and would welcome your assistance in many ways.

You can help by providing one-off or recurring donations to help us fund assignments; starting a community fundraising group in your area, or volunteer part-time in our Sydney office. If you’re interested in visiting some of our program and participants in the field and finding out more about capacity building for development, you can join us on a short small group trip to Timor-Leste or Samoa with one of our EncountersContact Palms Australia for more information.