The decline in Australia’s foreign aid spending is “personally troubling”, the Archbishop of Sydney, Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP, said at the launch of Caritas’ annual Project Compassion appeal on Monday.
While he acknowledged the assistance and aid given by Australia’s governments, “dare I say it’s not enough”, the archbishop told the crowd of more than 200 people who gathered at NSW Parliament House for the launch.
“But in the end we can’t look to government to fix everything.
“We need generous companies, agencies and individuals. And that means that what donors like yourselves do is crucial.”
He called on those present to give generously when encountering the iconic Project Compassion boxes in Catholic schools and parishes.
“This generosity enables Caritas … to support those in need across our world and to help them help themselves.”
NSW Premier Mike Baird said it is “within our DNA as people to look after others”.
“When the chips are down you will often see Australians come forth and want to help others,” he said.
“The opportunity that we have here today, I think, is a reminder to this city, this state, this country … to show the compassion that the world wants to see, indeed, the world needs.”
Fijian couple Eric and Margaret travelled to Australia to speak at the launch of Project Compassion before embarking on a two-week speaking tour of schools and parishes during Lent. Eric said he and his wife were eager to share their story of the Tutu Rural Training Centre in Fiji, supported by Caritas.
“The centre is run for farmers, to teach young men, young women and married couples,” Eric told The Catholic Weekly.
“The biggest lesson they gave us was building our faith and working on our marriage.”
The 2014 Project Compassion appeal raised almost $11 million for Caritas, the Church’s international aid and development agency.
The 2015 appeal focuses on the theme ‘Food for Life’.