About SVA


On the 4th of September 2010, Christchurch was struck with a 7.1 magnitude earthquake.

In response to this natural disaster, University of Canterbury student Sam Johnson created a Facebook group called the ‘Student Base for Earthquake Clean Up’ to assist local residents with non life-saving tasks.

Sam and leaders of several UC clubs joined and together formed the ‘Student Volunteer Army’ as a collective movement of 11,000 people to help clean up the city.

Student Volunteer Army was formed as a charitable trust which has been continually led by a student executive and guided by a board of trustees. 

The organisation is now active in primary schools, secondary schools, and universities in Australia and Aotearoa, helping young people learn the skills of being a volunteer. SVA mobilises volunteers of all ages from all walks of life to respond to crises, helping the public get through difficult times.

What is the SVA Service Award?

The SVA Service Award is a platform where secondary school students log and reflect on their volunteering hours.

The students are working towards Member, Bronze, Silver, and Gold badges to acknowledge the awesome mahi that they do in their community, whether it be their school, family or neighbourhood.

Impact of Volunteering on a Young Person's Life Cover Page

SVA Research Report

The positive impact of the Student Volunteer Army’s SVA Service Award on young people’s lives is undeniable and profound. 
SVA commissioned independent research to understand how the SVA Service Award benefits and impacts young people through volunteering and service. The research showcases a range of positive, experienced impacts including; increased leadership skills, empathy, community connections, work readiness, and overall improved sense of self-worth and pride through volunteering and service. 
To read and access the research, please fill in the form to view and download the full report.

Mobilising action towards the 17 Global Goals

For the first time in history, there is a globally agreed list of priorities that are called the Sustainable Development Goals or Global Goals. Each goal relies on actions of volunteers, and calls for long-term attitude and behaviour changes - for example, in the way we waste food or pollute the ocean with plastic.

Service Award students work towards Sustainable Development Goals of their choice and reflect on the impact that their takoha is having.  

what schools are saying

This is perfect for our school. We have so many students who act as unpaid caregivers for grandparents and siblings at home. Ironically, this is often a barrier to producing a full CV of service related activities when it comes to completing applications for study or employment. The Service Record component of the Awards means our kids can be recognised for the work they actually do - exciting times

Vicki Cotton, Head of Careers - Sacred Heart Girls' High School

We are currently undergoing an awards review in our school to explore how we can make this more accessible and visible across all year levels so this will be fabulous.

Chris Jordan, Assistant Principal, Greenbay High School

The pins are a real currency - the girls continue to aim for the next level as they really want to add the beautiful pin to their school blazer

Cat Roberts, Deputy Principal - Sacred Heart College (Hamilton)

The beauty of our students registering with the SVA Service Award means they can keep a full log over the years of their service and print this out, which is of huge value to them

Anglea Garret, Service Coordinator - Carmel College

Our Partners & Sponsors

“Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in
democracy. When you volunteer, you vote
every day about the kind of community
you want to live in”.

Dr Syed Muhammad Zeeshan Hussain Almashhadi