FAQs Returned Volunteers



First VSA/Downer NZ volunteer off to Timor-Leste

Published on 16th April 2013

Chris Meade

The first VSA/Downer NZ volunteer leaves to go on assignment in Timor-Leste tomorrow.


Chris Meade, Downer NZ’s executive general manager of human resources, will spend four weeks reviewing the HR functions at ChildFund Timor-Leste in Dili.


“I’ll be helping ChildFund Timor-Leste get an idea of where the gaps are in their HR policies and processes, and pave the way for a second VSA volunteer to begin a longer HR assignment with ChildFund.”


Downer NZ is the first New Zealand organisation VSA signed a partnership agreement with after setting up its partnerships development programme 18 months ago. VSA’s partnerships development manager Ruth Harrison says she is delighted that Chris has become the first VSA/Downer NZ volunteer.


“People tend to think of Downer as a being all about engineering and infrastructure, but it’s a big company and the staff have a huge range of skills,” she says.


“As an HR specialist, Chris is demonstrating in a very positive way that VSA volunteers really do come from all sorts of different backgrounds.”


Chris is looking forward to spending a month in Dili – including the experience of living in typical volunteer-style accommodation.


“A lot of people assume I’ll be staying in a top hotel, but it won’t be like that at all. I’ll be living like any other VSA volunteer.”


She’s now busy brushing up her social media and photography skills so that she can keep her colleagues in New Zealand fully informed about her volunteering experience.


“It’s a great opportunity to find out first-hand what it’s like to be a VSA/Downer NZ volunteer,” she says. “We see our partnership with VSA as a really good fit with the work we already do in the Pacific. From an HR point of view becoming a VSA/Downer NZ volunteer is a great opportunity for staff to learn what it is like to work with Pacific cultures.”


child fund

The Child Fund office in Dili.

VSA has now signed partnership agreements with 12 New Zealand businesses and organisation. Chris Meade is one of several VSA partnership volunteers currently on –  or about to go on – assignment in the wider Pacific. You can read more about the partnerships development programme here.


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