Caritas began in Australia in 1962 as the Catholic Church Relief Fund (CCRF), which became the Catholic Overseas Relief Committee in 1964.
In 1996 the agency became Caritas Australia. The word Caritas comes from Latin, and means love and compassion.
Today we serve in 18 countries, working through 67 partnerships in communities to bring hope, support and compassion to the world’s most vulnerable people.
Aspire not to have more but to be more.
One of the early Project Compassion boxes in use.
Mary Gilchrist, former director of the Paulian Association, came up with the name Project Compassion.
Organising packages for Project Compassion in 1967.
The agency came under the auspices of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference (ACBC) in 1965. The agency incorporated in October 2020, but retains a strong connection with ACBC through the Bishops Commission for Social Justice, Mission and Service (BCSJMS). Caritas Australia assists the Commission with aspects of social justice formation, education and animation, working closely with the Office for Social Justice.
Our connection to the Catholic Church and Catholic community in Australia has always been, and will always be, core to our mission, our work and our function.
In the 1960s, parishioners in the dioceses of Sydney, Adelaide and Wagga Wagga were holding local Lenten appeals to fund missionary work and poverty relief projects overseas. These grassroots fundraising efforts later became a national Lenten fundraising appeal, now known as Project Compassion. The first appeal raised $90,000.
Today, Project Compassion is our main appeal. It remains a grassroots fundraiser, with contributions from nearly every diocese, parish and Catholic School across the country.
With the support and generosity of people like yourself, we can continue to towards a more just and equal world for all.