What do you do on your trips? Different trips have different objectives, and specific activities change on an annual basis. Broadly, our trips focus on health promotion and/or clinical activities; this can be in the form of running education sessions for local groups, screening for hypertension, or volunteering at a clinic doing examinations and helping local doctors. All of the activities on the trip occur under the guidance of our partner organisations in the host country, which means that students are supervised at all times and are not expected to perform anything outside their scope of practice and training.
What does donated money go towards? All donated money and funds raised goes towards helping our partner communities. This can be in the form of donating supplies to the local hospital, or funding the development of new infrastructure in the area. Participants are expected to pay for their own flights, accommodation and any other expenses incurred whilst on the trip.
What is TeamMED’s stance on voluntourism? Voluntourism is a complex issue. At TeamMED, we try our very best to minimise harm to our partner communities, while making a positive difference and still providing educational opportunities to students. Our teams are encouraged to establish long term goals with our partner organisations to avoid the pitfall of short-term solutions. These goals are established in conjunction with our partner communities in order to establish their needs and ensure that the support provided is what is best for them. All activities performed by team members while overseas are supervised by local staff, and teams are greatly discouraged from performing activities that they would not be allowed to do in Australia, even if their partner community is okay with it. Ultimately, we aim to create sustainable, long term solutions with our partner communities whilst providing a learning opportunity for both them and our students.
How do teams prepare for trips? Once teams are selected in April, goals are established for the year. In general, the rest of the year is spent refining their short and long term aims for the trip, and fundraising to meet these goals. During this time, teams undergo training procedures with Monash Clubs and Societies and the Monash Student Association to prepare them further for their trips. In December or January, teams travel to visit their partner communities and work hands-on with them. Upon returning, debriefing sessions are held to receive feedback from all teams in order to improve in the next year.
How are teams kept safe while overseas? TeamMED functions under the guidance of Monash Clubs and Societies. Before departure, trips are fully registered with the university with a sample itinerary, and a risk assessment is performed by Monash staff to minimise any potential risks. A pre-departure briefing is also held with staff to ensure that participants are fully aware of the event, including – expectations of participant behaviour, awareness of risks and what to do in a critical incident/emergency. Since trips can be unpredictable, teams are required to elect a Senior Event Manager (SEM), who is required to check in on a regular basis with Monash staff to ensure there are no issues whilst on the trip. The SEM is also required to perform additional training in incident and risk management. Furthermore, teams also work under the supervision of our local partner organisations that are able to provide additional guidance when overseas.
How is Covid-19 affecting TeamMED? As it stands, with Covid-19 travel restrictions still in place, teams are unfortunately unable to visit their partner communities at the end of the year due to safety concerns. While this reduces some hands-on opportunities for our students, teams are continuing to foster their relationships with local organisations and communities through fundraising, education, and awareness campaigns. While the safety of team members must remain an absolute priority, we aim to continue supporting our partner communities as best we can.
I don’t want to volunteer overseas, is there anything I can do locally? While Covid-19 has presented a lot of challenges with international travel, TeamMED is still continuing to hold our local events where possible. These include volunteering nights supporting Days for Girls and Birthing Kits Foundation Australia. Additionally, teams fundraising for their overseas partner communities may host volunteering or social events. Keep an eye out on our Facebook page for more information!
What will be expected of me as a trip member? Depending on what trip you apply for, you will spend 2-6 months fundraising. Team members should be proactive in contacting sponsors (e.g. lions clubs), hosting trivia nights, sausage sizzles and any other fundraising activity. While overseas, 1-2 team members will be designated as team leader/s, making them responsible for the safety of all team members and partner community members. All team members will be expected to practice cultural safety. The specific activities undertaken will be country-dependent. Upon return, post-trip debriefings and handovers are expected.