Every day in overseas countries, Canberrans such as 26-year-old Eliza Percival work under the looming threat of kidnap, bomb attacks and robbery.
Living thousands of kilometres away from the safety of her home town, Percival is part of a growing number of Australians needed to work in dangerous countries and willing to be called upon.
''You watch your back all the time,'' she says. ''In a way you have to become a little immune, otherwise you could spend your life in fear.''
The Australian government will deploy more than 1000 volunteers to developing countries overseas in 2012-13, the largest number ever, according to AusAID.
There is strong demand for a range of skills from surf lifesavers and physiotherapists to vets and vulcanologists, all of whom require a good dose of initiative and pluck to do the job.
Percival loves her job making and screening educational films, despite the fact her Nairobi apartment needs four deadbolt locks on the door because the Kenyan capital is known for its robberies.
''The power goes out at least once a day, often the water stops and the internet is very unreliable, leading to a real blockage in workflow,'' says the former student at Trinity Christian School, Wanniassa, and Radford College, Bruce.
''It makes you realise that sometimes a chair, desk and computer is really all you need to get the job done.''
As a youth ambassador chosen by the Australian government, she is not paid a salary but does receive an AusAID living and accommodation allowance while she works as a communications officer for FilmAid.
FilmAid is a humanitarian organisation working in the Dadaab and Kakuma refugee camps to share information, address critical needs and send messages that inspire positive social change.
Travelling through Nicaragua in her early 20s, Percival says she saw people living below the poverty line.
''It sounds very cliched, but it's hard to just sit by in your warm, comfortable lounge room and pretend nothing is happening,'' she says.
The presence of Percival and other taxpayer-funded aid workers in Africa is, according to experts, linked to a greater geopolitical cause being driven by the Australian government.
Australia has poured money into Africa and South America in an attempt to get a UN Security Council seat, according to Professor Stephen Howes, former AusAID chief economist, now the Australian National University's development policy centre director.
Howes says the money is used for great causes such as education and clean water but could make a more long-lasting difference if it is not spread so thinly across developing nations in the bid for votes.
''Of the regions receiving aid, Latin America is the most prosperous and of least importance to our national security,'' Howes says.
Fifty-one African nations and 17 South American countries now receive AusAID scholarships and fellowships.
In Africa, Zimbabwe is at the top of the list of recipients. From 2005-06 to 2007-08, Zimbabwe received just $5.6 million of Australian aid, a figure which has increased 30-fold to $177 million since the start of 2009, according to AusAID.
Traditionally, Australia has sent a large proportion of its aid to countries within the same region.
In 2010-11, AusAID country program aid to Indonesia totalled $446 million. Another $118.8 million went to the Philippines, $68 million to Cambodia, $35.7 million to China and $9.4 million to Mongolia.
Cambodian-based Australian youth ambassador Gabrielle Robens works with HIV sufferers and their relatives as part of UNICEF's child protection team.
She helps Buddhist leaders support orphans and vulnerable children affected by HIV and assists the study of entertainment workers under the age of 25 to find out where they work, how many children they have and how many of their customers or partners wear condoms.
It is not only the ranks of government-funded aid workers that are growing.
Chief executive of not-for-profit humanitarian relief agency RedR, Alan McLean, says there had been increased demand from the UN for seconded Australian professionals.
RedR provides competent and committed personnel to disaster areas and maintains a standby register of qualified personnel.
It has 47 people who have organised leave from their work and obtained the support of their families to be seconded to UN agencies in 22 countries, including the World Food Programme, UNICEF and the UN Agency for Refugees.
Canberra engineer Mel Schmidt gave up his federal government job to work with RedR.
Schmidt has just returned from Pakistan where a worker for the International Committee of the Red Cross was kidnapped and killed earlier this year.
One of his most memorable moments was when discussions with local tribesmen whose homes had been flattened by floods started flaring up.
''I assessed the situation as one where it was more important to allow these poor and frustrated people to vent their concerns to me, especially as they were doing so through the local government agents, than it was for me to turn my back and run for the security of the armoured car - there were Pakistan military armed security personal around us and the local tribesmen were unarmed.
''We continued the discussion for another 10-15 minutes, allowing various of the tribesmen to speak, and when we finally departed I felt they were satisfied, that they had been heard - maybe for the first time.''