When the late David Penman was appointed Archbishop of Melbourne in 1984, he quickly realised Anglicans needed a way to respond to the many requests for support from Anglican churches and organisations around the world, particularly those impacted by disasters and emergencies.
As a result in 1988, the Archbishop of Melbourne’s International Relief and Development Fund was born, with the aim to “provide church-to-church aid in a unique way, building on personal contacts”.
More than 30 years later, the Fund, now called Anglican Overseas Aid, is a professional international development agency supporting projects in eight countries across Africa, Asia, the Middle East and the Pacific, with work including women’s empowerment, child protection, HIV and AIDS prevention, breast cancer diagnosis and management, gender-based violence prevention and much more.
Archbishop Penman dreamed of an agency that could constantly grow in size and scope, bringing the hope of God’s justice and abundant life to ever more people around the world – including those at home who were supporting the work.
We were initially run as an arm of the Department of Multicultural Ministry, led by Reverend Helen Hunter. In 1992 we became independent and were run entirely by volunteers, including Beth Hookey, one of the founding board members, who was appointed as Executive Officer.
Since those early days, we have grown from being entirely run by volunteers to today’s mix of seven staff, mainly part-time.
We are extremely grateful for the support we receive and are always seeking opportunities to inspire Australians to become more involved and responsible global citizens.
Anglican Overseas Aid does not seek to be seen as an agency to which the church simply outsources the issue of global poverty. We want to work with local congregations, meeting, praying, and informing, so that we may all become more the people God wants us to be. The role of spiritual disciplines, such as prayer, cannot be underestimated in our work nor for the communities we work with. The devotional life of our organisation is also very important; it reminds us why we’re here.