Oxfam Australia

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Oxfam is a world-wide development organization that mobilizes the power of people against poverty.

One person in three in the world lives in poverty. Oxfam is determined to change that world by mobilizing the power of people against poverty. Around the globe, Oxfam works to find practical, innovative ways for people to lift themselves out of poverty and thrive. Oxfam saves lives and helps rebuild livelihoods when crisis strikes. They campaign so that the voices of the poor influence the local and global decisions that affect them.

Oxfam works with partner organizations and alongside vulnerable women and men to end the injustices that cause poverty.

Oxfam Australia's activities are mainly funded by community donation. Oxfam’s development and advocacy programs use 71% of donated funds, 15% is used for fundraising and promotion, and the remaining 14% for administration. In the case of emergency appeals, 90% of funds are used directly for emergency response purposes.

In 2012-13 Oxfam Australia's work reached more than 6 million people in 51 countries. This was made possible by the support of more than 335,000 donors and campaigners.


Oxfam started as the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief in England in 1942. The group campaigned for food supplies to be sent through an allied naval blockade to starving women and children in enemy-occupied Greece during the Second World War. In December 2013, Oxfam Australia celebrated its 60th anniversary.

Oxfam Australia was born out of a merger between two leading Australian international development agencies — Community Aid Abroad and the Australian Freedom from Hunger Campaign.

Community Aid Abroad began in Melbourne’s suburbs in 1953 as a church-affiliated group called Food for Peace Campaign, founded by Father Gerard Kennedy Tucker. The group sent weekly donations to a small health project in India, and eventually, Food for Peace Campaign groups were established throughout Victoria.

In 1962, a full-time campaign director was appointed and the name was changed to Community Aid Abroad. The new name reflected an aim to assist communities more broadly, rather than just providing food in order to maintain peace. Throughout the 1960s, local Community Aid Abroad groups were established across Australia.

The Australian Freedom from Hunger Campaign was launched in 1961 following the launch of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation’s five-year campaign, Freedom from Hunger. This community-based campaign was aimed at raising global awareness about poverty issues around the world and provided opportunities for people to directly support anti-poverty programs in developing countries. Membership was initially open to organisations rather than individuals and these included unions and community interest groups. The campaign grew to become a national organisation in 1964 that conducted appeals for countries including India, Timor-Leste, Cambodia and Ethiopia, and supported Aboriginal issues and programs in Australia.

The Australian Freedom from Hunger Campaign and Community Aid Abroad merged in 1992 to become one of Australia’s largest international development organisations. As a founding member of Oxfam International, we changed our name to Oxfam Community Aid Abroad in 2001 and then to Oxfam Australia in 2005.

Emergency response[edit]

When an emergency hits, Oxfam Australia provides people with the assistance they need to survive – clean water, sanitation facilities, food, health and nutrition advice and shelter. They also make every effort to ensure that crises don’t happen in the first place, by tackling the factors that increase the risk of conflict and disaster such as; poverty, climate change and promoting peace between rival groups.

Oxfam Australia had a major role in responding to the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami. The emergency fundraising appeal raised A$27.5 million to help approximately 2.5 million people. Response programs operated by Oxfam Australia included; setting up water and sanitation, shelter to people who lost their homes and support to establish and restore people’s livelihoods.

More recently Oxfam Australia has responded to Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in the Philippines, the East Africa Food Crisis, the Haiti earthquake and the Pakistan floods.


Oxfam Australia supports programs to help people to help themselves by giving people the skills, tools, confidence and access to markets they need to fulfil their potential and work their way of poverty. They fight for better working conditions and better protection of the natural resources on which poor communities depend. And they campaign at a global level for fair access for poor people to national and international markets. These countries can be divided into seven regions.


Oxfam Australia is committed to working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples to improve their health, wellbeing, empowerment and self-determination.

Areas of work include: Health and wellbeing, community healing programs, partner support, training and knowledge-building, self-determination, human rights training, advocacy, youth leadership, mentoring and empowerment, gender equality, Indigenous rights, advocacy and campaigning, women’s leadership and empowerment, advocacy for policy and practice change, organisational cultural change, Oxfam Shop producers.

The Pacific[edit]

Oxfam Australia has worked in the Pacific region since the 1960s. The countries in which Oxfam Australia are currently working are; Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, and Solomon Islands.

Areas of work include: Disaster risk reduction, natural resource management, climate change adaptation, humanitarian support and coordination, health promotion, HIV and AIDS, education, prevention and care, youth, gender equity, good governance, gender violence, research, livelihoods, skills training, community strengthening, peace-building, shelter, water, sanitation, advocacy on extractive industries, trade and government policy, partner support and training.


In Africa, Oxfam Australia is working in the following countries: Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Niger, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, South Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Areas of work include: HIV and AIDS awareness, education, prevention and care, support for orphans and vulnerable children, humanitarian support, disaster risk reduction, water, sanitation and hygiene promotion, food security, livelihoods, agriculture, civil rights, supporting active citizenship, advocacy, gender equity, community strengthening, partner support and training, healthcare, skills training, cash grants, human rights support, child protection training, distribution of essential items, cash-for-work programs, cash grants, Oxfam Shop producers.

East Asia[edit]

In East Asia, Oxfam Australia currently works in nine countries; Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, The Philippines, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Vietnam.

Areas of work include: Disaster preparedness and risk reduction, natural resource management, small infrastructure development, food security, healthcare, HIV and AIDS education, prevention and care, water, sanitation, health education, job skills training, livelihoods, community finance, agriculture, mining advocacy, labour rights, climate change and environment advocacy, international financial institutions advocacy, community strengthening, gender equality, women’s empowerment, indigenous rights, community networks, good governance, peace-building, partner support and training, gender-based violence, peace building, Oxfam Shop producers.

South Asia[edit]

In this region, Oxfam Australia has programs operating in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal and, Sri Lanka.

Areas of work include: Empowerment of vulnerable communities, gender equality, inter-ethnic understanding, women’s leadership, indigenous peoples capacity building, sustainable rural development, climate change adaptation, mobilisation, training and capacity building, sector coordination and advocacy, food security and nutrition, emergency response capacity of partners, livelihoods recovery, access to income, humanitarian assistance, agricultural productivity, water, sanitation and hygiene, emergency shelter, microfinance, leadership capacity building, girl child education, disaster risk reduction, natural resource management, gender-based violence, labour rights, urban poverty, Oxfam Shop producers.

Maghreb and the Middle East[edit]

In this region, Oxfam Australia currently works in; Egypt, Israel, Occupied Palestinian Territories and Lebanon.

Areas of work include: Water, sanitation, health promotion, livelihoods, distribution of clothing and food vouchers, healthcare, community strengthening, rehabilitating and equipping health facilities, food security, Oxfam Shop producers.


Oxfam Australia works with Oxfam Shop producer partners in the following countries; Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Paraguay, Peru.

Campaigning for change[edit]

Oxfam Australia is involved in a wide range of advocacy campaigns:

Indigenous Australia[edit]

Every Australian deserves equal access to income, employment, health and education. Oxfam Australia has 30 projects making a positive difference to the lives of Indigenous Australians to;

• Improve Indigenous Australian health and wellbeing by partnering with Aboriginal Community controlled Health Organisations.

• Working with Indigenous Australian youth to provide them with opportunities and skills they need to be active players within their own communities and to realise their potential.

• Supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to achieve self-determination for their people to make decisions about policies and programs that directly affect their lives and respecting and supporting these decisions.

• As a member of the Close the Gap Coalition to close the gap in life expectancy between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

• Working for recognition between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians.

Workers rights[edit]

Oxfam Australia is working together with other international organisations to persuade sportswear companies to respect and implement workers rights. Oxfam Australia supports unions and organisations in Asia to campaign for labour rights in factories, workplaces, and to lobby governments and companies to ensure the rights of workers making sportswear products are upheld.The vast majority of workers who make sports gear are young women who have migrated from rural to urban areas in their own country, to earn money to support themselves and their families. Oxfam Australia also seeks to promote solutions by researching labour rights issues and making recommendations to major brands. Oxfam Australia’s campaign focuses on several of the largest sports brands (including adidas and Nike) who collectively, through their suppliers, employ hundreds of thousands of workers throughout Asia. Major campaign issues include the need for sportswear companies to respect the right of workers to form and join unions (known as freedom of association) and the right to collective bargaining, ensure the payment of living wages, an end to workplace harassment and discrimination, and an end to unsafe or exploitative working conditions (often referred to as “sweatshops”).

With the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh in April 2013, which claimed the lives of more than 1,100 workers, Oxfam Australia campaigned Australian clothing companies to sign the Bangladesh Fire and Safety Accord. The new safety measures mean that factories will be open to independent fire and safety inspections, covering 2 million workers.


Oxfam is lobbying Australian mining companies, financial institutions and the Australian government to make sure people come before profits. They also help affected communities understand their rights to a decent livelihood and a clean environment, and to demand that companies allow them to have a say about mining projects in their area.

Oxfam focus on:

• the gender impacts of mining

• human rights, including the right to free, prior and informed consent

• community-company grievance mechanisms

• doing business in conflict zones

• revenue transparency

Oxfam is an active member of the Publish What You Pay Australian coalition, the Australian Corporate Accountability Network and OECD Watch. They work closely with Jubilee Australia, Transparency International Australia and the Diplomacy Training Program.

In 2013, Oxfam Australia put pressure on Melbourne-based miner, Rio Tinto, over its coal project in the Mozambique. Oxfam Australia has confirmed the resettlement of more than 1500 people to a location that is infertile and has an inadequate water supply. The community faces a precarious future and is reliant on food handouts from Rio Tinto. Rio Tinto is responding to concerns raised by Oxfam and Human Rights Watch.

Climate change[edit]

From rising sea levels and coastal erosion in the Pacific Islands, to longer and more intense droughts across many parts of Africa, communities around the world are feeling the impacts of climate change. Australia has also felt the effects from major droughts, bushfires and floods. Oxfam Australia believes that poor communities in developing countries will be the ones worst affected by climate change and the least able to adapt. For this reason, Oxfam Australia is campaigning world leaders for a global solution to climate change. It advocates that developed countries cut carbon emissions and provide support for people in developing countries to avoid massive environmental damage that will lead to a dramatic loss of croplands and water sources and an increase in poverty and suffering around the world.


Oxfam Australia monitor key bodies and organisations to ensure they are acting in the best interests of the people they affect and the environment. This includes; the private sector, Governments, World Bank and Asian Development Bank.

Oxfam Shops[edit]

Oxfam Australia supports fair trade through its chain of Oxfam Shops and online store. Oxfam Shop is a registered Fair Trade Organisation by the International Fair Trade Association. Oxfam Shop is a wholly owned subsidiary of Oxfam Australia and operates as a non profit. It works to provide a market for food and hand crafts produced in third world countries. It has over 100 producer partners from more than 20 countries, including Indigenous Australians. Oxfam Shop supply up to 50% advance payment for the goods it buys and provides support for product and skills development.

Currently there are 11 shops across Australia. Orders can also be placed online.


Oxfam Australia's biggest event is Oxfam Trailwalker. Trailwalker takes place annually in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth. In 2013, more than 1500 teams of four, took part to raise $7.9 million. Each team must cover 100 km of Australian bush in 48 hours.

Oxfam Trailwalker originated in Hong Kong in 1981 as a military training exercise for the Queen’s Gurkha Signals Regiment. In 1986, Oxfam Hong Kong was invited to co-organise the event and then in 1997, completely took it over. Over time, Oxfam Trailwalker became one of the largest fundraising sports events in Hong Kong and now also has massive success annually in the UK, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, and Belgium.

Oxfam’s longest running event is Walk Against Want. Highlighting the plight of women in the world’s poorest countries where they have to walk long distances to collect clean water, the inaugural Walk Against Want was held in 1967 as 45 km walk from Melbourne to Frankston. Today community groups around Australia hold their own Walk Against Want events.