Our development approach

Integral Human Development is the holistic development of the human person, covering all aspects of life: social, economic, political, cultural, personal and spiritual. Integral Human Development is the overarching approach for all our programs.

Family with goat

Development cannot be limited to mere economic growth alone. In order to be authentic, it must be complete: integral, that is, it has to promote the good of every person and of the whole person."
Pope Paul VI

Integral Human Development is grounded in the principles of Catholic Social Teaching, and promotes the dignity of the human person, equality between every person and the common good of all people in the community.

What does Integral Human Development look like?

  • A life with dignity – where people are able to access basic services, are included in social, political and economic life. This empowers people with confidence to make changes in their own lives
  • Just and peaceful relationships – by addressing power, equity and conflict issues, people can feel safe within their family and community, and actively engage in community activities
  • Sustained economic wellbeing and resilience – where people have access to resources necessary for life for themselves and their family
  • Influence and independence – by improving the ability to access information and resources, people should be able to influence attitudes and decisions that affect their lives

The whole person

Integral Human Development highlights that human development cannot be separated into individual components (like health, education, shelter etc.); nor can it be focused solely on economic growth. Instead, our programs are designed to promote the development of the whole person, in every dimension of life.

Every person

Caritas Australia is committed to serving people who are vulnerable to extreme poverty and marginalisation. We work with people regardless of religious, political or cultural beliefs.

Our development approach is to support whole communities, rather than sponsor individuals. A village well, a community school, a trained primary health worker — these can all help to improve life for everyone.


We believe that the only way to effectively and sustainably address poverty is to assist people to become architects of their own development. We work through partnerships, walking side-by-side with communities and local partner organisations, to ensure that people who are affected most by issues are able to influence the program.

We partner with local organisations and communities through providing financial support for projects, as well as technical support, advice on management and planning, mentoring and guidance.

Caritas Australia also works in partnership with the Australian Government, with some of our programs supported by Australian Aid.

We are a partner of the Australian Council for International Development to maximise collaborative international development work across Australia.

We are also part of the Church Agencies Network Disaster Operations (CAN DO), a consortium of eight Australian based humanitarian church agencies that exists to build the resilience of communities, to strengthen the capacity of partners, and to enhance agencies’ effectiveness in responding to disasters, especially in the Pacific.

It is not just a question of eliminating hunger and reducing poverty… it involves building a human community where men can live truly human lives…"
Pope Paul VI

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