Augustinian Volunteers Australia (AVA)
AVA provides a group of volunteers capable of responding to need in situations at the margins of society and with communities struggling with their own empowerment.
Augustinian Volunteers Australia was established in the time of Prior Provincial Fr Tony Banks OSA and under the direction of Fr Brian Fitzpatrick OSA and has operated under the guidance of The Augustinians since 2008. It operates as a not-for-profit organisation seeking funds through and on behalf of the AVA Trust Fund which are disbursed as required according to the terms of the fund.
Our Volunteers are of all ages but predominantly are University or TAFE students who give at least a day per week (of whatever hours) to minister alongside The Augustinians but especially in marginal settings around Australia and at times overseas. We have ministered in Thailand through Villanova and in Sydney in a number of sites, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane over years and are now reaching out to western Queensland. Our core principle in ministry is to walk beside communities in need and to help them in their own efforts at their empowerment. Aboriginal and Refugee communities have been key responders with us. Refugees continue to work with us in places like Holy Family community in Mt Druitt in Western Sydney.
AVA has accompanied some 100 Volunteers over the 12 years we have operated. Most recently we have assisted Aboriginal communities in the recovery of language. This has enabled Augustinian Volunteers to walk with the community of Redfern (and to a lesser extent Western Sydney) in learning and teaching the language here before colonisation. At the end of 2019, Australia’s present Governor-General, Governor the Honourable David Hurley accompanied our Sydney Volunteers and some 200 of our parishioners and friends from school communities in a celebration of Indigenous Language with the Redfern Community as we travelled by Sydney catamaran ferry to the island of Me-mel, the home of the famous Wangal warrior, Bennelong.
A feature of Augustinian Volunteers is the solid foundation they are given through a two-week course in theology and spirituality as preparation for mission alongside the Augustinians. AVA is now on the cusp of a new venture as Queensland Volunteers respond to the invitation of the Bigambul people of Goondiwindi to assist in the recovery and teaching of their language. Our Volunteers are grateful to the Augustinians for these precious experiences in ministry with communities at the margins of modern Australia.