Learn on Purpose

Corporate Speaking and Workshops

Sally Hetherington OAM was 25 when she packed up her belongings and bought a one-way ticket to Siem Reap, Cambodia. Originally running a foreign-volunteer program, Sally witnessed the unintended consequences of voluntourism, and teamed up with Human and Hope Association (HHA Cambodia), a nightly English school at the time, to help develop it into a thriving community centre.

Working as Operations Manager, Sally was responsible for implementing new programs addressing social issues, fundraising, logistics, mentoring and training the staff and ensuring the organisation’s long-term future. Sally overcame countless obstacles, but her biggest lesson was that sustainable change can only happen when locals lead it.

Through Sally’s empowering approach to development, she successfully made herself redundant and left HHA to be entirely run by local staff. Sally is now the CEO of Human and Hope Association Inc, a registered charity in Australia that raises funds for Human and Hope Association to continue their poverty-alleviating programs.

Awards & Publications – Sally Hetherington

  • 2020 – 40 Under 40 Most Influential Asian-Australians.
  • 2019 – The International Alliance for Women (TIAW) World of Difference Award.
  • 2019 – Order of Australia Medal – aged only 33.
  • 2019 – ‘It’s Not About Me’ – Manifesto by Sally Hetherington published by Elephant House Press in 2019.
  • 2018 – JCI Australia Top Outstanding Young Person Honouree.
  • 2018 – Third Sector Volunteer of the Year Award.

Sally is available to speak across Australia and internationally on sustainable development, her journey as a young female building up a not-for-profit organisation, innovation and taking risk, and the unintended consequences of voluntourism.

Previous Clients

‘It’s Not About Me’ – Discovering Voluntourism is a Problem, Not a Solution

Volunteering is widely known as an act of selflessness, an act of helping those in need. When Sally Hetherington OAM moved to Cambodia to volunteer, she didn’t realise her beliefs around volunteering would change.

While she was in Cambodia she noticed what was called ‘voluntourism’, a form of volunteering where people go to other countries to volunteer for a short period of time before heading back home.

Sally learnt a lot in her time while in Cambodia and from her lessons created a sustainable charity to help teach locals to build their community themselves – without the need for foreign volunteers. Her incredible journey sparked motivation in Sally to write her book “It’s Not About Me”.

Released in 2019, this book has sparked conversations about why voluntourism isn’t a solution to ending poverty.

Since the launch of her book, Sally has received  positive feedback from people who didn’t understand the harm voluntourism caused on local communities. 

“I have read Sally’s book in one weekend and absolutely loved it and shared it for my family to read. I admit we have fell under the traps of voluntourism ourselves and we knew it was not exactly right. Sally genuinely shares her stories with great humour and expertise. At the end of the read, you will feel comfortable being even more generous with a true impact for Cambodia, any countries in the world and any causes you are passionate about,” – Helene.

“I would give this book 6 stars if I could. A thought provoking read about the dangers and pitfalls of overseas voluntourism. Sally combines her knowledge and experience from her time in Cambodia setting up a locally run NGO, to convey how well meaning tourists are contributing to the disempowerment of the local communities of developing counties. A must read for anyone who may be thinking about volunteering at schools/orphanages overseas, I guarantee after finishing this book, your mind will be changed. Although the tone of the book is serious, including graphic detail of the Khmer Rouge (there is a disclaimer before the book proceeds into this), Sally also combines light humour and optimism to make for a profound and entertaining read,” Jade.

In the Media