Live In Volunteers-Work Exchange Programme

Due to the current coronavirus situation, Chenrezig Institute is currently not accepting any applications for Work Exchange Program Volunteers.



Live in Volunteers

What to Expect

Chenrezig Institute’s Live In Volunteer Program offers a unique opportunity to live in a Dharma setting.

There are a number of roles available across our busy Dharma centre and you can expect to work within many areas of the centre including the Big Love Cafe, the garden and housekeeping. These roles would volunteers who are looking to work in a Buddhist environment and explore how offering service to others is a way of expanding our hearts and minds.

You will work five shifts per week with each shift being approximately six hours. In return you will be provided with rain forest accommodation and meals. You will also be able to attend teachings, meditation and yoga sessions where these fit around your work commitments.

What are the Benefits?

Chenrezig Institute depends on committed and enthusiastic volunteers to achieve its mission.

  • Being a Live In Volunteer at Chenrezig Institute gives you the opportunity to further your own practice through serving others, meditation, attending teachings and living within a practicing and supportive community.
  • You’ll meet lots of new people committed to discovering and exploring Buddhism
  • You’ll have the chance to attend teachings, ask questions and put it all into practice
  • You’ll have the opportunity to gain new skills and learn about the hospitality industry

What are the Tasks?

These are different for each of the roles in our Dharma Centre.

During your time here you will be assigned to a team: Kitchen, Housekeeping, Grounds & Maintenance. As part of your initial training you will be teamed with another more experienced volunteer who will show you the ropes, answer your questions and help you feel confident in your tasks. Each of these teams has a volunteer leader who will help you get to know your role and your new team-mates.

For Housekeeping tasks may include:

  • Cleaning and making up guest rooms including stripping and making beds
  • Vacuuming and dusting
  • Cleaning kitchens and bathrooms
  • Laundry, including washing, drying and folding
  • Emptying bins and restocking supplies when needed
  • Sweeping and mopping classrooms
  • Communicating with guests and reception

For Big Love Cafe tasks may include:

  • Cleaning and preparing the cafe for service
  • Food preparation as directed by our chefs and bakers
  • Washing dishes and emptying bins
  • Welcoming and serving our guests
  • Serving cakes and coffee (We’ll train you!)
  • Sales and cash handling
  • Restocking supplies as needed

For Gardening and Maintenance tasks may include:

  • gardening including mowing and wiper-snipping
  • painting
  • moving equipment
  • emptying bins

What skills and characteristics do I need?

  • Be able to work independently
  • Be physically fit (able to lift 10 kg) able to move around a site with lots of stairs and able to stand for long periods
  • Be able to follow directions from your team leader
  • Enjoy living and working in a team environment
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Hard working and committed to Chenrezig Institute.

When can I volunteer?

Generally, we would like you to commit to at least six weeks, with the flexibility to stay up to three months or more. We encourage you to consider this time frame as most of our volunteers find that this gives you time to settle into your new lifestyle, build a relationship with the community and really develop your own practice.

What is the Accommodation like? What should I bring with me?

The housing is mostly in single rooms in a shared house; occasionally you might have to share a room (same sex only).

Accommodation in single huts is very limited. If you participate in this program it is best to come with minimal attachments …. clothes, covered in shoes, towels, toiletries, torch and some personal items are really all you need to bring. Chenrezig Institute will provide you with a uniform, furnished accommodation, linen, meals and more.

What about meals?

Meals are provided to you as part of your live in experience. All  meals are lovingly prepared in the Lama Yeshe Big Love Café.

All meals are vegetarian and tasty, designed to fill you up and keep you healthy and happy. Meals are made from fresh local produce and organic produce is used as much as possible. Lunch is the main meal for the community and is served from 12noon to 1pm with a light supper, generally soup, provided from 5:30pm.

Visa information for volunteers from overseas (non-Australians)

There are two types of tourist visas:

  • eVisitor Visa [subclass 651]

Further details:

If you wish to volunteer at Chenrezig Institute only for up to three months or if you are not sure for how long you want to stay in Australia you could apply for the eVisitor Visa [subclass 651]. It is free of charge and allows you to stay for up to three months at a time within a 12-month period.

  • Visitor Visa [subclass 600]

Further details:

If you wish to volunteer at Chenrezig Institute for more than three months you may consider applying for the Visitor Visa (subclass 600). The visa can be granted for up to 12 month and allows you to stay within Australia consecutively for the whole time.  Although there is a base application charge for this visa it can save you a lot of money and stress related to the Australia Government’s visitor requirements (see eVisitor Visa [subclass 651]).

Please check that the above information is current and up to date as it can change on a regular basis by going directly to the Department of Home Affairs, Australian Government website:

Chenrezig Institute accepts no responsibility for your visa application, requirements and its results.    (as at 28 April 2018)

Please be informed that as a visitor to Australia you may not be covered by the national health scheme and getting medical treatment can be very expensive. You may want to consider getting adequate health insurance cover before you arrive for your stay here.

What is life like in a Buddhist Community?

Chenrezig Community is made up of ordained monks and nuns as well as lay people who come from a variety of experiences and cultures. What unites us is our commitment to Buddhist teachings and lifestyle. We ask that, while you are here, you too will make that commitment.

To be sure you understand exactly what this means, we include our Code of Conduct as below; complying with this code demonstrates your respect for the community.

While on the Chenrezig Institute property it is expected that all volunteers, workers, students and sangha will endeavor to maintain the following standards of behaviour:

To dress modestly at all times  and to abstain from:

  1. Protect living beings (Do not kill – even tiny insects)
  2. Respect others belongings (Do not steal)
  3. Speak truthfully (Do not lie)
  4. Respect Chenrezig Institute as a place for spiritual reflection and personal development (refrain from sexual misconduct)
  5. Cultivate clarity of mind and body (refrain from using drugs and alcohol)

You can apply for our volunteer program by emailing [email protected] or completing this form

Volunteer Application

Volunteer Application