For thousands of years, people understood the need for charities and supported the concept of helping others. In Australia, aboriginal culture, with its kinship ties was (and still is) a society based on obligations to family and a selfless, sharing system of living.
Within 25 years of European settlement Australia had its first modern charity – the Benevolent Society of NSW, which was formed in the early 1800s. This enterprising charity pioneered many social services for women and children. In 1820 it started the first social service for motherhood by introducing district nursing. It also established Australia’s first maternity hospital, the first antenatal clinic in the British Empire, and helped get child labour outlawed in this country.
Today we have about 10,400 charities with almost 12,000 outlets or branches. They employ 120,000 staff and are helped by tens of thousands of volunteers. Many of these selfless and hard-working organisation fill some of the gaps left by government departments: caring for sick children; raising money for research into diseases and genetic conditions; putting food on the table of poor families; promoting the health and wellbeing of babies and mothers; showing new mums and dads how to care for their little ones; and many, many other causes close to the hearts of families.
With so many charities competing for donations from our relatively small population, you’d think there wouldn’t be enough to go round. But we’re a generous bunch in this part of the world: every year over 13 million Australian adults make a tax-deductible donation to charity. More is donated via street appeals whereby you drop a cash into a bucket on a charity’s nominated national fundraising day – such as the Cancer Council’s Daffodil Day, Red Nose Day, and Jeans for Genes Day which raises money for research and the care of children with genetic disorders.
Here we’ve listed a range of charities you might like to know more about, donate to, ask for help, or even volunteer for. A lot of families find they want to help other families less fortunate than themselves. Many at-home mums and dads find charity work a great way to get out of the house, meet people and give something back to the community while putting their professional skills to good use.