International Volunteer Program

International Volunteer Program

We are pleased to advise that after 3 years, we are re-opening our International Volunteer Program in January 2023. Due to the number of cancellations that we had to make as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak many of the placements for 2023 have already been filled, however, we may have some places becoming available later in the year. 

The following information will help volunteers to understand what is required of them on our International Volunteer program as well as to give them an idea of what we can provide. 

It is important to understand and accept that this is an animal hospital and research centre and, as with all animal clinics, you are likely to see unpleasant things at times. Volunteers must also accept that we cannot save all the wild koalas or any of the other species of wildlife that we may treat, and euthanasia/death does and will occur.

Duration and Costs

The International volunteer placement is for one calendar month, and the registration fee is $650AUD which is paid as a 50% deposit to secure the palcement and payment of the remainder is required before the commencement of the program.

The Program

  • If you are selected as a volunteer, you can expect to:

    • Learn how we care for koalas
    • Attend koala rescues and releases, if they occur on your shift
    • Watch and/or assist with some clinical procedures
    • Attend a post-mortem (optional)
    • Attend one of our external educational presentations
    • Experience work on our 2 plantations
    • Work a shift with one of our visitor experience guides
    • Work a shift in our merchandise kiosk
    • Learn about the overall work of the Koala Hospital

  • What we will also do for you is to:

    • Provide the resources for you to learn about the work we do overall at the hospital as well as how we care for koalas
    • Provide you with an information pack
    • Provide a buddy/go to person for any information or help you may need during your placement
    • Provide insurance cover for you while working at the Koala Hospital
    • Make your placement with us informative and enjoyable

Hours and Days

The hospital operates on a twice daily working shift pattern - 8am to approx. 11am (depending on the number of koalas that we have in) and 2.30pm to approx. 4.30pm.

We expect volunteers to work a minimum of 5 morning shifts per week during their placement, and they are welcome to work more days if they wish.

If a volunteer would like to work in the afternoons, some afternoon shifts accept “extra” volunteers, but volunteers should not be offended if they are not required.

Having too many volunteers on a shift means that there is very little for everyone to do.

A Team Leader runs each shift, and most shifts consist of different volunteers; so, international volunteers will see a lot of new faces every day.

Currently the Hospital has approx. 200 volunteers.

Yard Work

Volunteers need to be aware that they are working with wild koalas, and even though some may appear quiet and gentle, they are quite capable of inflicting painful injuries with their razor-sharp claws and teeth.

No untrained volunteer can handle or pick up any of the koalas without permission or guidance. Failure to comply with this rule may result in the volunteer being asked to leave the yards.

The work involves raking and cleaning individual koala yards, cutting branches of leaf, feeding formula to some koalas, sweeping walkways and generally tidying up whatever is required in the yards.

Volunteers may also be able to attend and observe rescues and releases if they occur on their shift.

The yard work does not stop if there is pouring rain, hail or high winds as the koalas still need to be cleaned out and fed. Even though we do have some raincoats for volunteers to use, we suggest that volunteers bring their own rain protection.

During high winds we will provide a safety helmet for volunteers to wear, which is mandatory.

Covered shoes and working clothes are essential. Thongs, sandals and very short shorts are not allowed.

A hat, sunscreen and water bottle are recommended.

General Information

All volunteers must provide written confirmation that they have a current tetanus immunisation and are fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

All volunteers must also have a reasonable level of spoken English.In addition to the registration fee of Aud$650, volunteers are responsible for their own travel, accommodation and meal costs as Koala Conservation Australia Limited is not able to cover this.

We strongly advise that volunteers take out additional medical/accident insurance while they are in Australia as the insurance we provide only covers accidents whilst on shift.

From the donations that we received due to the bushfires in late 2019/2020 we have been able to bring forward our plans to start a wild koala breeding program. Building the facility has almost finished and is located in the Cowarra State Forest, which is just outside of Port Macquarie.

In 2019 the Koala Hospital was awarded a major grant to build a brand-new hospital on our current site.

To find out what’s happening in Port Macquarie go to


To apply for a placement, or for any queries, please email our Hospital Coordinator at