DAISI’s emphasis is to send volunteers to its closest South Pacific neighbours, particularly those countries which fall significantly below the WHO Poverty Line. These primarily include Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Kiribati & Fiji.
DAISI’s aim is to provide high quality medical and surgical services and education in a structured and coordinated manner. In order to achieve this, DAISI only sends volunteers to hospitals with which it has an established Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
Why volunteer in the South Pacific Islands?
The natural untouched beauty of the South-Pacific Islands is breathtaking, but so too is the poverty. Many of these islands have a per-capita GDP of $600 ranking them as some of the poorest countries in the world. This makes them very deserving neighbours to the much more wealthy Australia and New Zealand. In most of the South-Pacific, more than 75% of its labour force is engaged in subsistence and fishing. The tropical temperatures, with heavy monsoonal rainfall make the islands abundantly rich and fertile for growing fruits and vegetables, while the oceans are teaming with fish. Very few in in the South Pacific go without food.
However medical care is limited in the South-Pacific Islands, with the remoteness of the Islands making it difficult to deliver adequate care to all. The life expectancy in the South-Pacific due to poor health care delivery is also one of the lowest in the developing world.
Is a visa required?
If you are a UK, Australian or New Zealand passport holder you do not need to apply for a visa prior to leaving to visit most islands in the South Pacific, but you do need proof of your return flight. It is recommended that you print out your full itinerary to show to customs on arrival. Most islands will provide a free of charge 30 day visa on arrival. If you are not a UK, Australian or New Zealand passport holder, then we recommend you contact the consulate for the country you plan to visit to determine visa requirements.
Is registration required?
Any qualified doctor or nurse wanting to volunteer in any of the South Pacific Islands must have approved temporary medical or nurse registration to practice in that country. Please contact email@example.com for more information. For doctors an application form is then emailed along with police and working with children check/certificate and the names and mobile contact number of three referees to firstname.lastname@example.org
Successfil applicants will then have their applications emailed to the respective country.
For nurses, applications are then sent by DAISI staff to the Nursing Board registrar. Medical students need to email their curriculum vitae to email@example.com and organise a supervisor for their elective period. Most DAISI trips are 1-2 weeks, and DAISI doctors can be your supervisor during this time. If your volunteer elective is longer than this you will require a local hospital doctor as supervisor and letter of invitation from this doctor.
Is travel insurance recommended?
Yes, we recommend travel insurance should you have a mishap. Flights frequently cancel due to weather and other unforeseen events. Travel insurance is money well spent. If you purchase your ticket with a gold or platinum CBA credit card, then you will be covered should you get sick and need urgent retrieval back to Australia.
What is the cost involved ?
Volunteering in the South-Pacific Islands is an incredibly generous offer of your time and income. In general a return plane trip from Sydney or Auckland is not cheap costing around $1,600 to the Solomon Islands or Kiribati. PNG, Vanuatu and Fiji are significantly cheaper destinations to visit. Accommodation is generally not provided by the hospital, so will also need to be organised by volunteers. DAISI is a registered tax-duductible charity, and expenses relating to humanitarian work may be tax exempt, so keep your receipts. DAISI volunteers are exempt from having to pay medical and nursing registration fees. Medical students do not require registration, but must have a qualified doctor to agree to supervise them.
Do I need a reference check?
It is imperative that DAISI screen suitable candidates. In addition to a Working With Children Check and AFP National Police Check all doctors wanting to volunteer with DAISI must supply the name and mobile number of three referees with all referees being doctors or health professionals in the same specialty as you, all of whom you have worked with in the last 12 months. For those in public hospital appointments a reference from the Department Head is required. This is a confidential process with unsuccessful candidates with poor reference checks advised of the decision but (for privacy reasons of the referees) the details of the reference check will not be divulged). DAISI apologies in advance for any offence this process may cause applicants.
How do I book my flights and accommodation?
You can book your flights and accommodation online independently, or if you prefer, use our reliable St Leonard’s Flight Centre travel agent Sally Smit who has a vast experience in dealing with the South-Pacific Islands, and can remove a lot of the stress associated with making your bookings. Sally can also give you specific advice about travel insurance and visa requirements.
What do I bring ?
Donated medical supplies are always appreciated by the hospitals you visit. Most recently expired medical supplies have a shelf life at least 6-12 months longer than that stated on the packaging. Prior to volunteering in the South-Pacific Islands, have a look at the complete register of items most urgently needed, as well as the complete register of items already obtained and ready for donating.
How do I apply for extra luggage allowance for medical equipment?
The only carrier that flies directly from Brisbane to your country of volunteer work can be contacted to request extra free baggage allowance. and DAISI are happy to provide you with a letter stating that this extra luggage is to be donated for medical aid. Qantas can also be very generous in extra baggage and can be called on (02) 8222 2651.
Is formal briefing & debriefing offered ?
Yes, a formal briefing at the “Information Night” is recommended in the week prior to your departure to be held in the capital city with the most number of volunteers on the trip. Skype or Zoom is recommended for those interstate who cannot attend in person.
It is the designated team leader’s responsibility to organise the information night as well as formal debriefing for all volunteers as a group at the end each trip. A summary of this debriefing will be sent to the DAISI secretary to allow dissemination to each of the DAISI office bearers. This debriefing information is valuable for allowing adjustments to improve future trips. It is usually the volunteer who didn’t go to the information night or formal debriefing who ends up with unrealistic expectations or being poorly prepared, and not reaching their full potential during the trip.