2016: The year that was

22 Dec 2016   |   Blog   |   Year in Review

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Children from Syria

With 2016 coming to an end, now is an important time to reflect on the moments that shaped the year and the stories of hope and inspiration that will take us into 2017.

Caritas Australia is incredibly thankful to you, our wonderful supporters, for all of your generosity and kindness in 2016. We hope you look back on this year with pride on the support you have given us and the communities we work to make a difference in.

Humanitarian effort

Fiji was struck by what is thought to be the biggest storm to ever hit the Southern Hemisphere, Cyclone Winston in February. The Caritas network assisted 14,703 people following the disaster. We are very thankful for your generous support to the people of Fiji in the aftermath of Cyclone Winston.

March marked the five-year anniversary of the beginning of the Syrian war. In this time period, Caritas Internationalis have contributed over $256 million to the relief effort, including $5.58 million from Caritas Australia. We thank you for your continuing support of the people of Syria, particularly through our Middle East Crisis Appeal.

April 2016 also marked the one-year anniversary of the Nepal earthquake. In honour of the occasion, our Vice-chair, Bishop Peter Stasiuk spent a week in Nepal, a trip which left a “profound impression” on him. We thank you all for your generous donations to help the people of Nepal this past year.

The wider Caritas network also assisted this year in the relief efforts for the earthquake in central Italy, Hurricane Matthew in Haiti, the Sri Lanka floods and landslide and the food crisis in Zimbabwe. Donations made to our Emergency Relief Fund have helped people in these situations and many more this year, so thank you.

Key events

Women for the World was held again in May, with events in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. The guest speaker was Psyche Mae, a social worker, who previously participated in one of Caritas Australia’s programs in the Philippines. We thank those who came along and supported these events. 

Project Compassion was again a wonderful success in 2016. Your support and fundraising efforts raised more than $11 million. Again, we say a huge thank you – without you, we would simply not be able to continue many of the life-changing programs that end poverty, promote justice and uphold dignity of the world’s most vulnerable across the 29 countries we work in.

2016 also had a strong focus on our youth movement. We held our Young Adults Global Justice Workshop in August, which was followed up by our inaugural Caritas Youth Think Tank. We are excited by the passion and energy of these young global justice champions and look forward to working with them again in the future!

We were proud to be a part of Anti-poverty ambassador Matt Napier’s Walk to a Better World campaign. Matt walked 2,297 km across Southern Africa in the name of global poverty, raising money for Caritas Australia’s sustainable development programs.  Once again, thank you to all those who donated to Matt’s campaign in the name of Caritas.

We’d also like to recognise the efforts of all the schools who have taken part in fundraising and social justice events for Caritas Australia this year. From cycling to sleeping in rough conditions for Caritas, and running awareness-raising campaigns on better sanitation and climate change, your commitment to helping those in need is inspiring!


Caritas Australia, in conjunction with Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand and Caritas Tonga, released the Hungry for Justice, Thirsty for Change: Caritas State of the Environment Report for Oceania 2016. The report details the impacts of climate change on the Pacific and recommendations on how Australia can help our neighbours. Thousands of our supporters took action in solidarity with our friends in the Pacific, and thanks to our partnership with Micah Australia the report has now been presented in person to over 100 federal politicians.

With the Australian Aid budget taking another cut in 2016, our Advocacy work was more crucial than ever in helping the world’s most vulnerable. Other important aspects of our Advocacy work in 2016 included our Fairer World campaign, the Draw the Line and Stop the Clock campaigns and the release of our joint statement on subsidiarity with our First Australians partners.

Our programs

The long-term impact of our Sustainable Food and Livelihood Security (SuFol) program in Bangladesh was visible through a number of stories this year, including Sariful Islam’s story. Supporting a family of five, Sariful now has the training and skills in vegetable cultivation and now generates additional income and can provide his family with nutritious food.  

The Australia Africa Community Engagement Scheme (AACES) completed its successful run in June, helping people like Agatha from Malawi through a Strengths-Based Approach to development. Agatha now has skills and knowledge in conservation and agricultural techniques and her family is now food secure.

Our CEO Paul O’Callaghan made his first trip to Cambodia in November, visiting our programs there. His trip included a haircut from the young men training as barbers as part of the Deaf Development Program we support.

Other inspiring stories included a greater access for sanitation in Chhattisgarh, India, empowering women in Peru with training and skills to promote gender equality and the importance of access to education for indigenous communities in the Philippines.

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