Life As A Companion Program Volunteer
Volunteers come to L’Arche, as part of the Companion Program, from all around the world, and we also have Assistants who live locally, so our communities include Australians as well as people from many other countries. The key to life in L’Arche – for everyone – is being open to relationship. All companions and assistants and Members living with a disability create home together in households of six to eight people. Days are filled with the ordinary tasks of daily living – meals, bathing, cleaning and household chores, laundry, shopping, accompanying people on leisure activities – and regular community meetings and events. Home life is the cornerstone of L’Arche. The evening meal, celebrations, birthdays, and times of prayer are small but cherished celebrations that strengthen the bonds between people who live and spend time together.
Companion Program volunteers from overseas come offering a commitment of one year. They come with a broad range of backgrounds and qualifications however each person will participate in a program of orientation and instruction to assist them with becoming orientated with the Australian culture and with L’Arche. As part of a team, including local Assistants and disability support workers, Companion Program volunteers coordinate and participate in caring for the members in their home, following government guidelines and the policies and procedures of L’Arche.
Companion Program volunteers from overseas must visit a L’Arche community in their home country before being accepted as a Companion Volunteer with L’Arche Australia.
Rhythm Of Life As A L’Arche Companion Program Volunteer
Every community has its own rhythm of life, that is, people live their lives differently and therefore routines and traditions vary slightly between communities. The consistent element is being with people and sharing life together through mutual relationships. As a Companion volunteer, you will live in a household with community members and will spend time with people across five days of the week. The times will vary and will include some time in the mornings, afternoons/evenings and weekends. The precise times and days will be provided to you after the community has offered you a volunteer placement. Each week you would usually have two days away.
L’Arche Australia Companion Program Volunteers need to possess the following:
- A warm and friendly nature;
- A desire to live and work with community members;
- Ability to use your initiative
- Effective communication skills
- Creative problem-solving skills
- Willingness to be a strong team member
- Willingness to change and be open to new experiences
- Willingness to be guided by the Community or House Co-ordinator in assisting the team within a household;
- Practical life skills e.g. cooking, household management, etc.
- A good sense of humour is always appreciated in our communities!
- Create mutually respectful relationships
- Assist with the coordination of Household Tasks
- Support the Spiritual Life of the Household
- Promote Leisure
- Maintain effective communication with the disability support team in the
- Participate in development and support activities
Spiritual Life in a L’Arche Community
In Australia, L’Arche is Christian in its spiritual identity. People of all faiths, or none, are welcome but it is expected that whatever your perspective on faith that you will be open to all aspects of other people’s spirituality. Volunteers are expected to respect the values of L’Arche and support prayer traditions in their household through participation.
L’Arche as a professional Support Provider in Australia
It is important to understand that in Australia, L’Arche communities are faith communities and are professional Support Providers. They are regulated and inspected and must meet legislated standards. The Companion Volunteer has a role alongside and cooperating with the local, professionally competent disability support workforce.
Volunteers may not take paid employment outside the Community whilst on the Companion Volunteer visa.