Volunteering for children or volunteering with children? A co-creation initiative to prepare student volunteers

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2 Citations (Scopus)


This article delves into the controversies of student volunteers working around children in developing world contexts, by proposing a model where the organisations that send and those that receive volunteers can collaborate to ensure volunteers’ purposeful involvement. The article is based on the results of a collaborative initiative between an Australian university and its international non-governmental partner organisations who receive student volunteers through a university experiential learning programme. The authors of this article contest the universalisation of the concept of childhood, offer a critique of detrimental forms of international volunteering and then discuss a co-creation process between the university and its international non-governmental organisation partners that resulted in a series of training resources intended to shed light on three important issues for volunteers to consider: the complexity of defining who is a child and how a child should live, the challenges of child protection and the need to enable children’s empowerment. The resources generated during the co-creation process were turned into freely available online learning modules to enhance the value volunteers can add to the improvement of children’s lives around the world, and to their own communities upon return.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-193
Number of pages13
JournalGlobal Studies of Childhood
Issue number2
Early online date11 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


  • children
  • co-creation
  • university curriculum
  • volunteering


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