Just VisitingThe Common Good

Integrated Human Development

Caritas Australia’s work is shaped by Catholic Social Teaching (CST). As a result, we take an integrated approach to development or what is called ‘Integral human development’. It is transformative and works to ensure a holistic approach by addressing all aspects of poverty and injustice across Caritas Australia’s relief, rehabilitation and development work.

Integral human development considers the holistic development of the human person, covering all aspects of life: social, economic, political, cultural, personal and spiritual. It promotes the dignity of the human person, equality between every person and the common good of all people in the community.

In the 1967 encyclical Populorum Progressio, Pope Paul VI introduced the concept of integral development:

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.”

When designing a student immersion program, it is important to not only consider the needs of our students, but how our actions fit into the broader picture. Applying the principle of the common good means that while we may have some specific learning intentions in mind, these must be balanced with the impact on the community we are visiting.

  • Does a student immersion program work towards the common good?
  • How can you strengthen your program so that it does?


Do you agree or disagree with the following statement?
If you come back from a trip and your main conclusion is 'I'm so thankful for what I have, because they have so little', you have missed the whole point.
  • What is missing from this conceptualisation of poverty? How does it recognise the multi-dimensional and structural causes of poverty?
  • What do you consider the "whole point" of a student immersion program? 
  • Why is it not appropriate, or respectful to use immersion visits as a way to teach students to be grateful for what they have” or to “see how others live”? 
  • How might this lead us into ‘observation of’ rather than solidarity with the poor?
  • Is there an alternative way to achieve the same goal?
  • How does your student travel program acknowledge the multi- dimensional nature of poverty and human development?
  • How does your student travel program consider the broader context of the host community?

Film clip - Consider the broader context

Watch the following clip and discuss:

You have to make sure the organisation is reliable.
Sister Len


  • How have you ensured the organisation you are partnering with is reliable and their projects vetted?
  • How do you know where the funds you raise are being used?
  • How does your student program equip and support students to think critically about what they are seeing and experiencing?

Film clip - Child protection

Watch the following clip and discuss:

We have a duty of care to the communities we serve.


  • What challenged you about what Sister Len said?
  • Have you considered how some of the communication activities may have child protection implications? How have these risks been minimised?