Frequently Asked Questions:
What are my chances of being offered a placement?
Nearly all our applicants are successful. We have an in-depth application process that involves an interview to discover more about your interests and strengths, followed by a thorough matching system that finds the best available placement to challenge, engage and inspire you.
Do I get a say in which placement I am offered?
Yes. You’ll be asked to list up to four placement preferences on your application, and can modify these after your interview. Lattitude takes your preferences seriously, but also looks at where your individual skills and experience might be best utilised. We offer a wide variety of experiences but some are particularly popular, especially our Schools Assistant placements in the UK. Most of our applicants are offered their first preference, however if we are unable to offer you your first choice because it is already full or if your interviewer feels there is a more suitable option, we will discuss alternatives with you.
Where will I stay?
As part of the agreement with our placement hosts, your accommodation is included with your placement. Most often this will be on-site at your placement, for example you might have your own room in a school boarding house or a cabin at an outdoor activities camp. In some cases you may share an apartment with other volunteers near your placement. You may also have the opportunity to live with a host family in some countries and really learn about their culture from within. The quality of accommodation may vary from country to country; often the more developing countries provide accommodation that is quite basic.
Is my food included?
Your food is also included as part of the agreement with our placement hosts. The way in which your food is provided will vary according to your placement country and host. For example you may have access to an on-site canteen, receive an allowance to purchase and prepare your own food if in a self-contained apartment, or your meals may be supplied by your host family. In some of the more developing countries, such as Malawi or Vanuatu, food can be quite basic and may need be supplemented by additional supplies.
Can I go with a friend?
All applications are assessed separately because volunteers have better experiences when they’re matched to a placement that suits their individual skills and attributes. However if suitable, there is always the chance that friends may be offered placements in the same country.
Will I be the only volunteer at my placement?
This depends on the needs of your host. In nearly all cases you will be placed with another Lattitude volunteer or possibly with a team of volunteers; unless a host only needs one volunteer. Whatever happens, you will live and work alongside other young people.
What if I get sick?
To ensure you are covered if you happen to get sick, you will need to have comprehensive travel insurance which we can help to arrange. Some countries, such as the UK, also have reciprocal rights with Medicare. Our hosts and in-country Lattitude representatives are always on hand as well and have a great deal of experience in supporting young Australian volunteers. In the instance of an emergency, Lattitude staff and your insurance provider will be able to assist you and make any arrangements you may require.
Will the country I’m going to be safe?
The safety and security of our volunteers is paramount and Lattitude would never send volunteers to a placement that is deemed unsafe. While there is some risk involved in any overseas travel, pre-departure briefings and in-county orientations educate our volunteers and alert them to potential hazards. Lattitude takes advice from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) about any major situations that may arise and monitor accordingly. We also maintain regular contact with our hosts and in-country Lattitude representatives about the suitability of our placement locations.
Will I receive any pocket money?
A small amount of pocket money may be supplied by our hosts for placements in developed countries. The amount may vary from placement to placement but will generally be enough to cover daily living expenses. In developing countries you may not receive pocket money as the local economy cannot always afford it; however your own savings will go a lot further.
I’m worried that if I take a year off, I won’t come back and study.
While it’s a common fear, in our experience the opposite is true! In a recent survey of our volunteers, 94% had gone on to university or higher education and 78% agreed or strongly agreed that they felt re-energised and ready for further study as a result of their gap year. Additionally, a 2007 study by Curtain University confirmed that taking a gap year correlates with higher marks once students reach university.
How will I deal with any problems?
There is a large support network of Lattitude staff and representatives in all our countries. These people are there to help you, to be a friendly face and provide support as required. They will also visit you at your placement to check that all is well. There’s Lattitude Australia too – contact us if you need help. We have the following five levels of support available to every Lattitude volunteer:
- Host Mentor – member of staff employed by the placement host that is your first point of contact.
- Lattitude Local Representative – part-time or volunteer member of staff allocated to a placement as a local point of contact.
- Lattitude Program Manager – volunteer or paid staff member with overall responsibility for you and your placement. This is your next point of contact if your Local Rep is unavailable.
- Volunteer Coordinator - paid member of staff based in our Melbourne office that is responsible for supporting the Program Manager, assisting you pre-departure and during your placement if required. This person is also the key contact for parents.
- Operations Manager or Lattitude Australia Director – paid staff based in our Melbourne office that deal with serious issues or formal complaints (some may also be passed on to the Lattitude CEO in the UK).
My son or daughter is going to volunteer with Lattitude, do you have any information for me?
Yes, we have developed a short guide which aims to summarise in one place all you need to know about Lattitude and answer some of the common questions or areas of concern raised by parents and guardians. This guide will be emailed to you by the dedicated Volunteer Coordiantor working with you son or daughter.