Christmas giving: A bucket of prawns or fight poverty?

Media Release from Caritas Australia
20 December, 2011

Australians are expected to spend $27 billion this Christmas. That works out at $1213 each, much of it on food and gifts.

That’s a lot of money. In fact, it’s more than the $20 billion which has been estimated as the amount needed to bring much of the African nation of Kenya out of poverty within four years. Kenya’s population is roughly 41 million people.

It has also been estimated that extreme global poverty could be eradicated with $175 billion a year.
That means, with just one year’s worth of Christmas spending, Australia alone could deal with seven per cent of extreme worldwide poverty annually.

“It’s a wonderful thing that the Catholic community is so generous at Christmas time and so ready to embrace the festive season and remember the importance of our faith,” Caritas Australia CEO, Jack de Groot, said.

“This is a tremendous aspect of our culture. But we would just like to remind people that this kind of celebration simply doesn’t happen for many of the poorest people on Earth.

“Christmas, for many, is still a time of deep struggle, where there is uncertainty about even having a meal, much less celebrating with a Christmas banquet.”

Mr de Groot said if Australians cut back their Christmas budgets by even $2, they could have a powerful impact on poverty worldwide.

There are now over one billion people who have to survive on less than $2 a day.

“I believe people would be pleasantly surprised if they could see just how far even a small amount of money can go in a community that really needs it,” Mr de Groot said.

“To give you an example, if everyone in Australia reduced their spending by just a couple of dollars, the money saved would be the equivalent of the entire Caritas Australia 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami relief effort.

“This is money we would scarcely notice missing and yet it is the kind of money that could save lives and change lives by giving people safe places to live, provide them with food, shelter and medical assistance, while at the same time rebuilding livelihoods so that people could fend for themselves and their families.”

Mr de Groot said sometimes it is a simple matter of slowing down and thinking about things in perspective.
“Christmas is a wonderful time of giving for the Catholic community every year. What we are suggesting is that we all think a little bit more about where we give, we can have a dramatic impact in the lives of those less fortunate,” Mr de Groot said.

Media contact: Ryan Heffernan 0408 869 833 or