Australian charities unite to launch historic disaster relief alliance

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Online launch event features high profile speakers including Senator the Hon Marise Payne, ABC Board Director Dr Jane Connors, and James Gilling, First Assistant Secretary, Humanitarian, NGOs and Partnerships Division

Sixteen Australian charities joined forces for the first time today Friday 6 August, to launch the newly-formed Emergency Action Alliance at an online event that featured prominent government leaders, media executives and charity leaders. In an historic move, the humanitarian agencies will be uniting in their campaign and fundraising efforts to improve how Australians can support and donate when large scale overseas humanitarian disasters take place.

The CEOs of the charities believe that through this new single fundraising entity more money can be raised from the Australian public more quickly so that there can be a rapid distribution of funds allocated to where the money is most needed.  This will save more lives and can enable the quicker and more efficient rebuilding of communities.

Executive Director of the Emergency Action Alliance, Kerren Morris says, “Around the globe, the number of large-scale disasters are increasing. The complexity of these emergencies are also accelerating, and new factors such as the COVID pandemic mean that communities are even more vulnerable.  It’s no surprise that the needs for disaster response and recovery are escalating. Our member organisations already work in close collaboration during a disaster response – but there has been a common agreement that a more formal alliance was needed to make it easier for donors to give. Today is an historic moment in Australia’s response to disaster relief.”

The online launch on Friday featured high profile speakers including Senator the Hon Marise Payne, ABC Board Director Dr Jane Connors, James Gilling, First Assistant Secretary (Humanitarian, NGOs and Partnerships Division), CEO of ACFID Marc Purcell, CEO of Fundraising Institute of Australia Katherine Raskob, and each of the EAA member CEOs.

Matthew Maury, the Chair of EAA Board and CEO of Tearfund Australia says, “Australians are incredibly generous when a disaster strikes and the EAA is designed to maximise the impact of this generosity.  When a crisis occurs, the Emergency Action Alliance works with its 16 members to quickly direct resources to the member agencies best positioned to respond to the disaster. It is a privilege to have this opportunity to join with my fellow Australian NGO leaders as we collaborate in this innovative way to raise more support for the most vulnerable communities around the world in their time of greatest need.”

Morris concludes, “When there’s a huge disaster or crisis overseas that gains media attention here in Australia, it can be hard for generous, compassionate supporters to know how to help, where to donate and who to trust with their donation. We know from research that any hesitancy can inhibit an individual’s likelihood to help. Through the Emergency Action Alliance donors will have confidence that their donation will be helpful to the people and communities impacted by the disaster.”

The full list of member organisations of the EAA are: Action Aid, ADRA, Act for Peace, Australian Lutheran World Service, Anglican Overseas Aid, Baptist World Aid, Caritas Australia, Care, CBM, ChildFund Australia, Oxfam, Plan International, Save the Children, Tearfund Australia, Australia for UNHCR, and World Vision.

For more information on the Emergency Action Alliance please visit

Five of Australia’s leading international aid agencies today welcomed the Australian federal government commitment to increase its global funding pledge at the Global Education financing Summit in London – but expressed disappointment that the pledge doesn’t go far enough.

Plan International Australia, Save the Children, UNICEF Australia, ChildFund Australia and Global Citizen, who have all been pushing for an increase in Global Education financing in the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, have expressed disappointment that Australia’s pledge of $36m per year over the next five years won’t meet the challenges posed by the impacts of COVID-19 on children’s education globally.

Australia has, over the past 10 years, fallen far behind comparative donor countries in committing to the GPE. On average, leading donor countries committed A$98m per year from 2018 to 2020. Australia’s commitment was A$30m a year, falling far short of other donors such as the United Kingdom, United States, France and Germany.

UNESCO estimates that more than 1.5 billion students and youth across the world are or have been affected by school and university closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Twenty-four million children are projected to drop out of school, perpetuating intergenerational poverty and inequality.

The UN Secretary-General, in his report on progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, released in April 2021, described the impact of COVID-19 on education as a “generational catastrophe” noting that the pandemic had devastating consequences for children’s learning and well-being.

The report noted that one year on from the beginning of the pandemic, two-thirds of students globally were still affected by school closures with the most marginalised children at risk of never returning to school and being at higher risk of child marriage or child labour.

UNICEF estimates that at least every seventh girl globally – 222 million in total – was unable to access remote learning programs when schools were closed due to COVID-19. UNICEF Australia CEO Tony Stuart welcomed the funding commitment to global education but said more was needed to meet the unprecedented challenges the world’s children face.

“For at least a third of the world’s school children, remote learning is simply out of reach,” Mr Stuart said. “Across East Asia and the Pacific alone, UNICEF estimates that more than 80 million children did not have access to any distance learning during school closures.

“The reality is the longer children spend out of school, particularly girls, the less likely they are to return to the education system. The school closures we are seeing across the globe are already, and will continue to have, devastating effects on child development in many countries for decades.”

Susanne Legena, CEO of Plan International Australia said: “At this critical time, when COVID-19 has upended the education of so many children, especially girls, it’s encouraging that Australia has shown its commitment to children and inter-generational gender equality.”

“However, in light of the damage that the global pandemic has done to children’s access to education we need to do much, much more. We’ve seen funding to education in Australia’s aid and development budget sustain the biggest cuts over the last decade. Now is the time to redouble efforts and rapidly grow Australia’s investment in education, particularly secondary education, so that children around the world can complete twelve years of quality education” said Ms Legena.

Paul Ronalds, CEO Save the Children: “The global COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on children’s access to education. There are very real fears that up to 16 million children worldwide whose education was disrupted by the pandemic, will never return to school. While we welcome the increase in Australia’s commitments to the GPE, it is disappointing that it has fallen short of our $70 million target, at a time when so many children are facing an abrupt end to their education.”

“With education being one of the most important investments that provides benefits not only to children but to their families and countries’ economies, now more than ever, we must redouble our efforts to get all children and adolescents enrolled in and completing twelve years of education,” he said.

Margaret Sheehan, ChildFund Australia CEO, said: “Education is an investment in the development of children, and critical economic recovery going forward. This year around half of the global school population is still affected by school closures. Increased investment is needed urgently to ensure that we mitigate devastating learning losses for the most vulnerable children. Access is key and requires us to resource connectivity and the digital transformation of our education systems.”

Sarah Meredith, Country Director (Australia), Global Citizen, said: “Critical to a world without extreme poverty is a child’s right to education. That’s why Global Citizen is boldly pursuing increased investments from world leaders to resume learning everywhere as part of our Global Citizen Live campaign. We welcome this strong new contribution from Australia. Given the size of the challenge ahead, we hope to see continued leadership from Australia for global education this year.”