Frequently asked questions

Q:
Who is Caritas Australia?

Caritas Australia is the Catholic Agency for International Aid and Development, working in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Pacific and Indigenous Australia. Caritas Australia is part of Caritas Internationalis, which supports emergency aid and grassroots programs in over 200 countries and territories.

Q:
What does ‘Caritas’ mean?

Caritas is a Latin word meaning love and compassion.

Q:
What does the Caritas logo symbolise?

The international symbol of Caritas is a flaming cross, symbolising Christ’s burning love for his people.

Q:
Does Caritas Australia help only Catholic people?

No. Caritas Australia empowers people to help themselves, regardless of ethnicity, political beliefs, gender or religion. We aim to give the world’s poor a voice so they can be self-sufficient, regain their dignity and have hope for the future.

Q:
Why did Caritas Australia begin?

In the early 1960s the pace of global social change was increasing and the Catholic Church adjusted to a greater focus on development and social justice. As ACR developed, we realised that responding to emergency situations was only a small part of the response to poverty, so began to focus more on human development and programs which built community self-reliance.

We soon realised that donating money was only a small percentage of any positive change. To make bigger and more positive changes, we had to increase Australians’ awareness and knowledge of the problems occurring in the developing world.

Q:
When did Caritas begin?

Lorenz Worthmann founded the first Caritas in Germany, 1897. In 1954, Caritas Internationalis was officially recognised.


Q:
When did Caritas Australia begin?

Caritas Australia began in 1964 as the Catholic Overseas Relief Committee (CORC). The initial focus was to distribute funds the Catholic Church had received for overseas relief from the United Nation’s ‘Freedom from Hunger’ campaign. However three months previous, the first Lenten appeals for overseas relief were held in the Archdioceses of Adelaide and Sydney, and the Diocese of Wagga Wagga.

As the agency comes under the auspices of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference (ACBC), in 1965 the organisers of these appeals encouraged the ACBC to initiate a national Lenten appeal. This very soon became known as Project Compassion and, in 1966, CORC became known as the Australian Catholic Relief (ACR). 

In October 1995, after consulting key supporters, the ACR National Committee recommended a name change. The ACBC Bishops agreed and on 1 July 1996, the agency became known as Caritas Australia.

Q:
What is Project Compassion?

Project Compassion is our annual fundraising, awareness and education appeal. Held during Lent, the six-week period before Easter, many Catholic schools and parishes across Australia take part. And each year it’s getting bigger and better.  

Now one of Australia’s largest annual humanitarian fundraising appeals, in 2013 we raised over $11 million and in 2014 we’re hoping to raise even more. For more, head to the Project Compassion website.

Q:
Is Caritas Australia a signatory to the ACFID Code of Conduct?

Yes, Caritas Australia is a signatory to the ACFID Code of Conduct. ACFID is the Australian Council for International Development and is the coordinating body for non-government overseas aid and international development organisations in Australia.

This Code identifies standards which enhance the integrity, transparency and accountability of organisations and their activities. As a self-regulatory and sector wide Code, the signing on by international development organisations is voluntary, although it is a requirement of ACFID membership. Compliance to the standards is tested predominantly through compliance monitoring of annual and financial reporting requirements, annual self-assessment and the investigation of complaints.

If you believe Caritas Australia has breached the ACFID Code of Conduct, you can lodge a complaint on the ACFID website.

Q:
How do I give feedback or make a complaint about Caritas Australia?

At Caritas Australia, we are committed to accountability and being good stewards of resources. We encourage our supporters, program participants, local communities, partners, and other internal and external stakeholders, whether in Australia or abroad, to share their feedback with us, including any complaints or concerns.

To ask a question, give feedback or make a complaint about Caritas Australia, email us, phone 1800 024 413 or post us a letter. We will respond to you as soon as possible.

Your question, feedback or concern will be directed to the department most relevant to your comments. Caritas Australia takes all correspondence seriously and will respond as soon as possible. All complaints will be investigated and treated with due diligence.

If you believe Caritas Australia has breached the ACFID Code of Conduct, you can lodge a complaint on the ACFID website.

Q:
Does Caritas Australia receive funding from the Australian Government?

Yes. As an accredited agency, Caritas Australia receives government funding. In order to do this, we must undergo a rigorous accreditation process. This accreditation process provides the Australian public with confidence that where the Australian Government provides grants to Australian NGOs to implement their own aid and development programs, it is funding professional, well-managed, community-based organisations capable of delivering good development outcomes. For more information, head to the Australian Government's aid website.

Q:
I would like to work for Caritas Australia. What should I do?

To work for us you must have a passion for people and the environment, and a belief in social justice. Head here for positions vacant and employment requirements. 

Q:
Does Caritas Australia have volunteer opportunities?

Yes. We appreciate and love having volunteers on board. For volunteer opportunities, please head to our positions vacant page.

Q:
Does Caritas Australia send Australian volunteers overseas?

In times of crisis Caritas Australia employs qualified people to assist local agencies with aid and rehabilitation. We are not a volunteer agency. For more information on volunteering overseas, head to palms.org.au or call 02 9518 9551. Palms Australia is the Australian Catholic lay volunteering agency.

Q:
I’m a student and would like some information about Caritas Australia for my assignment/assessment. What should I do?

Please check what you’re looking for on our website. It is very comprehensive and our webteam updates the site daily with the latest information on our programs, campaigns, advocacy work and countries we assist in. 

Q:
What types of programs does Caritas Australia support and where?

Caritas Australia supports long-term development programs in marginalised countries. We aim to help the poorest of the poor rediscover their dignity by taking greater control over their own lives. Our culturally-sensitive programs are designed and managed by local partners who are best placed to identify the needs and problems of their own communities. Programs include:

Healthcare, health education and counselling; Water supply and sanitation; Education and literacy; Women's rights and women's leadership; Development of community leadership; Livelihoods workshops, training and microfinance; Sustainable agriculture, ecologically sustainable development and environment education; Promotion of traditional cultures and skills; Assistance to communities after natural disasters and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR); Housing and housing support for refugees and displaced people; Conflict resolution.

Q:
Does Caritas Australia offer emergency humanitarian assistance?

Yes. As a member of Caritas Internationalis, one of the world's largest and most effective emergency networks, whenever or wherever disaster occurs, Caritas can respond almost immediately – using local church structures to deliver relief (food, water, medicine, shelter) – to people in need.

For example, in 2011 East Africa began experiencing its worst drought in 60 years. Caritas Australia has worked in this region for many years, and had staff on-the-ground providing food, water and humanitarian assistance.

Q:
Does Caritas Australia have an education team?

Yes. Our team of global education advisors are available to assist schools, education offices, universities and community groups. Our educators speak to groups and run workshops and seminars about issues surrounding aid and development; raising awareness of the interconnection between poverty, oppression and injustice. We also produce a range of resources for teachers and students.

Find your State's Global Education Advisor

Explore our social justice resources for schools: primary, secondary.

Q:
How does Caritas Australia support Indigenous Australia?

The aim of our First Australians Program is to work in solidarity with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations. We support a variety of programs that assist First Australians, such as improved living conditions, community self-reliance, respecting and strengthening Indigenous identity and spirituality, and assisting with the preservation of language and culture. We also work to promote reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

Our 2012 campaign Walk As One: Connecting with our World’s Indigenous Peoples is an extension to this idea on a global scale.

Q:
Does Caritas Australia have a child sponsorship program?

Caritas Australia's policy is to support communities rather than individuals. Caritas Australia does not believe focusing on individuals addresses the underlying causes of poverty. We are concerned that it may also isolate individuals from their own family and community. Sponsorship can also lead to families and communities becoming dependent on aid rather than developing enterprise and initiatives to address their situation of poverty. Caritas Australia supports projects that respond to the needs identified by local people in developing countries. We believe that these people are the prime sources of energy, enthusiasm, ideas and vision for their own communities. Read an article here.

Q:
How much of my money goes to those in need?

For 50 years, Caritas Australia has demonstrated careful management of funds in the communities you support. You can be assured that you are supporting an efficient and effective organisation committed to good stewardship of the resources in our care. We strive to keep our administration and fundraising costs at or below 10% of our income each year.

The graph below indicates how we allocated our funds during the 2012-12 fiscal year.

Q:
Why doesn’t Caritas send 100% of donations overseas to people in need?

Caritas ensures that your donations are put to work serving the poorest of the poor across the globe. Caritas Australia recognises that in order to deliver efficient, transparent and effective programs to those in need requires robust financial and administrative systems which we endeavour to uphold at the lowest possible costs.

Caritas is committed to creating one just and compassionate world. Our development education initiatives in schools, parishes and communities enhances solidarity, improves understanding and changes attitudes throughout Australia. When we share our journey with you, we all help to achieve justice in our world.

Q:
Why does Caritas need to spend money on fundraising?

Each year Caritas invests in fundraising to secure future income. Fundraising ensures long-term stability in our funding streams and therefore in our commitment to the poor communities we serve. As we grow as an organisation, we have the opportunity to expand our work, to reach further into the poorest communities and journey closer to a world in which the dignity of all is realised fully.

Q:
Why does Caritas need to spend money on administration?

Caritas Australia recognises that robust financial and administrative systems are needed to ensure we serve the poorest of the poor in the most efficient, effective and transparent way. Administration fees allow us to comply with Australian Government Funding, Taxation and OH&S Requirements, all of which are essential for a sustainable and accountable organisation. They also allow us to meet the requirements of the ACFID Code of Conduct. This level of accountability and transparency gives you the peace of mind to know that your donation is being used how you intended – to provide communities across the globe with life-giving assistance.

Q:
How are donations to an emergency appeal spent?

Donations for an emergency appeal are used to support Caritas’ emergency response activities in the affected areas. Following the initial response stage, all money raised from emergency appeals is directed to our ongoing rehabilitation programs.

Q:
Are my gifts to Caritas Australia tax-deductible?

Yes. Donations of $2 and over are tax-deductible.

Q:
What is the difference between aid and development?

Aid = the immediate provision of material, emotional and financial assistance (e.g. food, water, shelter, cooking utensils, medication, trauma support counselling) to communities caught in a crisis situation. This assistance is usually short-term.

Development = a process where a community of people work together to break the cycle of poverty and dependence, so their fundamental needs are met and the quality of their lives enhanced. Development is about sustaining growth.

Q:
What is poverty?

“Poverty entails more than the lack of income and productive resources to ensure sustainable livelihoods. Its manifestations include hunger and malnutrition, limited access to education and other basic services, social discrimination and exclusion as well as the lack of participation in decision-making. Various social groups bear disproportionate burden of poverty.” – United Nations Social Policy and Development Division.

Q:
How can poverty be eradicated?

By providing low income earners with good health care and education; reducing military spending and promoting peace; creating employment for the poor; working towards a sustainable environment; reducing the gender gap; cancelling debt; increasing overseas aid; and promoting fair trade.

Q:
What is human development?

Working for human development requires the empowerment of individuals and communities. Through addressing the capacities of human beings, rather than infrastructure or technology, it recognises the intrinsic worth of each person and seeks to build on that – a process that requires direct and active involvement by people in seeking their own path to development. Human development seeks to overcome the structures of poverty and injustice so that benefits are spread equitably and without discrimination. It is inclusive of all religious traditions.

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