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OFI Australia Construction Project Volunteer

Orangutan Foundation International Australia has volunteer opportunities available for active individuals who want to get their hands dirty and help save one of the earth’s most bio-diverse areas.

Come to Borneo, the world’s oldest rainforest, and help OFI build a much-needed structure! You may be building a bridge, an enclosure, an infant orangutan jungle gym, or another structure to help OFI continue our work to save orangutans in the rainforest.

Field volunteers’ complete projects that aid critically important aspects of our on-the-ground programs. The Field Construction Volunteer Program was developed because concerned individuals asked to participate directly in the work. We believe that together we can ensure that wild orangutans do not become extinct in our lifetimes.

Dates for our 2020 Construction Volunteer projects are currently being decided. We will post them here as soon as they are confirmed.

If you would like to put your name down to receive information about our 2020 projects once dates are decided, or have any questions in the meantime, please contact Dianne Coulthard at dianne@ofiaustralia.com

There were two projects available for 2019 – below is all information to give you an idea of what is involved as an OFI Construction Volunteer.

Click here for a downloadable brochure.

For more information, you can read the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) here.

Dates for 2019

Project 1: July 7 – July 27 2019 Inclusive (21 days)
Project 2: 11 August – 31 August 2019 Inclusive (21 days)


The cost of each program is AUD $1,500.

See Payment section below for payment requirements.

Construction Project Volunteer 2019 Collage

The Construction Project 2018

Be ready for:

  • Hands-on manual work in a hot, humid, equatorial environment
  • Buzzing, biting insects and the rare venomous snake
  • Basic, remote, isolated living conditions: no running hot water, rudimentary toilet and shower facilities
  • Possibly sleeping in the middle of the forest in temporary shelters
  • 3 meals per day (rice and vegetables, possibly supplemented by eggs, chicken, tofu or fish)
  • Construction work: building, carrying, sawing, cutting, etc – heavy lifting required!

Volunteer projects will take place at one of the following sites*:

  • The Orangutan Care Centre and Quarantine (OCCQ)
  • In the Dayak village of Pasir Panjang
  • Camp Leakey
  • Guard Posts within protected forests
  • Remote release sites
  • And other sites to be determined

*The projects will not be confirmed until later in the year and will be specific to the needs at that time.

A Volunteer’s Typical Day

Time Activity
7:00am – 8:00am Breakfast
8:00am – 12:00pm Work
12:00pm – 1:00pm Lunch break
1:00pm – 5:00pm Work
5:00pm – 7:00pm Free time (bathe)
7:00pm – 7:30pm Dinner
7:30pm Discussion of day’s events and of next day’s work
9:00pm Bed (at volunteer’s discretion)

The Basics

In order to participate in our Volunteer Program:

  • Volunteers do not need experience in the field, just a willingness to help, a sincere interest in forest conservation and orangutan survival, and a passion for the work OFI does.
  • Volunteers are expected to work approximately 8 hours per day with one day of rest on Sunday. This volunteer experience should not be viewed as a ‘holiday’.
  • You must be 18 years of age or above.
  • You must be in good physical condition and be prepared for hands-on manual work in a hot, steamy, equatorial environment that may occasionally have buzzing and biting insects and other inconveniences as well as the occasional danger [such as the rare venomous snake].
  • Volunteers should also be cognizant that Borneo’s endemic diseases consist of such tropical diseases as malaria, dengue, typhus, hepatitis, etc.

How to Apply

  • Email our Construction Team Coordinator to receive your Construction Team Application Form: dianne@ofiaustralia.com
  • Fill out the Construction Team Application Form that will be sent to you
  • Email your Resume, Cover Letter, and completed Construction Team Application Form to dianne@ofiaustralia.com
  • If your written application is successful, you will be interviewed by phone or Skype by our Field Volunteer Coordinator, Celine Vincart.

Application Process

All applications will be acknowledged. Once your Construction Team Application Form, Cover Letter, and Resume is received, a phone or Skype interview will be conducted with chosen applicants. You will be contacted by our Volunteer Coordinator to set up this interview usually within a few weeks of application. Note that all our Volunteer Coordinators are themselves volunteers, so please be patient if there is an occasional communications delay.

After the interview, if accepted, you will receive a Letter of Acceptance and you will need to pay the program fee deposit to reserve your spot on the team.

You will receive a receipt and a confirmation email.

Once the project is confirmed (minimum of four (4) volunteers), you will receive email confirmation and the remainder of your payment can then be made. See Payment section below. (Link to ‘Payment’ below)

You will then receive:

  • Volunteer Program Manual
  • Waiver Form
  • Work Contract
  • Confidentiality and Arbitration Agreement
  • Medical and Emergency Information Form


Payment is to be completed by Direct Bank Transfer (EFT).

Program cost is AUD $1,500 and is to be paid in two installments.

Payment Amount (AUD) Due
Deposit $500 On receipt of the Acceptance Letter following completion of the application process including an interview with our Field Volunteer Coordinator.  See ‘How to Apply’
Final Payment $1,000 Following confirmation from OFIA that the project has met the minimum number of volunteers.  See note below*

No later than 7 April 2019

*Note:  A minimum of four (4) volunteers is required to ensure the project can proceed.  Once this number has been reached, a Volunteer Coordinator will be in contact to let you know.  If the minimum number cannot be reached, a full refund of your deposit will be given.

Full payment can then be made and must be received by OFIA no later than 7 April 2019. Once full payment has been received, payment is non-refundable.


Bank Details

Name of account Orangutan Foundation International Australia Ltd
Bank Westpac
BSB No 034660
Account No 312726
Reference Your name

The program payment includes:

  • All accommodation
  • Food (breakfast, lunch and dinner)
  • Materials (tools and building material) for the completion of the project
  • Local assistance
  • Travel to and from the program site from the Iskandar Airport, Pangkalan Bun – Airport transfers

This program payment does not include:

  • Snacks
  • Postage
  • Laundry
  • Activities outside the volunteer experience
  • International and internal flights to the Iskandar Airport, Pangkalan Bun. You must purchase your flight tickets to and from Iskandar Airport, located near the town of Pangkalan Bun, Kalimantan Tengah [Central Borneo, Indonesia]
  • Three (3) day entry fee into the Tanjung Puting National Park during the trip to Camp Leakey at the end of the project
  • Vaccinations – Volunteers are responsible for their own vaccinations and should bring anti-malarial prophylactics and medications as well as medicines for common conditions such as diarrhoea.

Vaccinations and Medical Tests

OFI will NOT accept applicants who do not show proof of valid vaccinations against the following diseases:

  • Tetanus
  • Hepatitis A and B
  • Typhoid
  • Chickenpox
  • MMR
  • Flu
  • Potentially others, depending on alert levels at the time.
  • Negative test results for Tuberculosis and Hepatitis C for orangutan health and safety reasons

 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • Where will I be volunteering?

The volunteer program will take place at sites in Kalimantan Tengah (Central Indonesian Borneo) in the general vicinity of Pangkalan Bun but exact locations will not be confirmed until later in the year and will be specific to the needs at that time.

  • Will I get to interact with the orangutans?

You will definitely see orangutans. Whether you get to interact with them depends more on the orangutans as they are free to come and go and interact with people as they please.

  • What are the living conditions like?

Living conditions are very basic, remote, and isolated. There is no running hot water. Toilet and shower facilities will be very rudimentary.

You may be sleeping in the middle of the forest in temporary shelters. You may also be sleeping in an OFI facility. There will be three hot meals per day cooked by a local staff member. Meals will consist of rice and vegetables, possibly supplemented by eggs, chicken, or fish. There will be no red meat in keeping with local practice.

  • How hard will the work be and what kind of work is typically done?

The work is general physical in nature but not too hard for someone who is in moderately good shape. However, due to the remoteness of the location, a lot of modern conveniences are not available.

  • Will there be an opportunity to visit Camp Leakey or the Orangutan Care Centre and Quarantine?

There will be opportunities to visit both Camp Leakey and OFI’s Orangutan Care Centre and Quarantine during the 3-week program.

Construction Project 2019

OFIA Construction Project 2018 – Construction Volunteers – Construction Team Working