Gap Break

It is becoming quite popular for school leavers to take a break before going on to further education, training or employment. This kind of break is commonly known as a Gap Year, although the gap between school and further education or training is not always a year. There is a range of activities that school leavers can do in a gap break. Here are some of the possibilities:

  • Structured cultural experience volunteering abroad
  • Expedition
  • Getting a job in the Australian Defence Forces for a year
  • Volunteering
  • Travelling and working interstate or abroad
  • Gaining employment experience
  • Pursuing a sport or hobby

The benefits of a Gap Break

A UK study conducted by the Department of Education and Skills found that well-planned and structured gap breaks involving a component of structured (or at least pre-organised) paid or voluntary work contributed to the development of skills that are highly valued by employers, including interpersonal, leadership, communication, time management and organisational skills.

An additional benefit of a gap break is that it gives school leavers who are undecided about the course they wish to study or their career direction a chance to consider their options before making a firm commitment to a particular course or vocational option.

Gap Abroad

There are many organisations that provide school students, school leavers and tertiary students with the opportunity to take an organised gap break in another country. The websites below will take you to a range of formal gap break programs that involve you travelling to another country to volunteer or work. It is very important that you research these options carefully. The yearoutgroup has some useful information about planning a gap break abroad.

There are many gap programmes. Here are some links to some gap programmes:


Small World Adventures

Gapping Local

The decision to take a gap break does not mean that you have to go overseas. You may wish to work in your own country or even in your own state. Here are two ‘staying local’ gap options to consider.

ADF Gap Year where you can work for one year in selected jobs in the Australian Defence Forces with no further mandatory commitment after 12 months.

The Windeward Bound Trust operates the Sail Training Vessel 'STV Windeward Bound'. The Trust runs a voluntary liveaboard crew program where people aged 18-35 can spend six months (or longer) living onboard learning about the maritime world, accruing sea time and acting as a mentor to voyage trainees. No prior experience is required, but self-motivation is an essential ingredient in the success of volunteers onboard experience.

Many Year 12 leavers decide to take a gap break by working in their own state or territory or by moving to another Australian state or territory. If this is your preferred option, follow the links on the Employment page to find employment while you take a break between school and further education or training.