Oxfam started as the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief in England in 1942. The group campaigned for food supplies to be sent through an allied naval blockade to starving women and children in enemy-occupied Greece during the Second World War.
70+ years of changing lives
In December 2023, Oxfam Australia turned 70.
Oxfam in Australia
Oxfam Australia was born out of a merger between two leading Australian international development agencies — Community Aid Abroad and the Australian Freedom from Hunger Campaign.
Community Aid Abroad began in Melbourne’s suburbs in 1953 as a church-affiliated group called Food for Peace Campaign, founded by Father Gerard Kennedy Tucker. The group sent weekly donations to a small health project in India, and eventually, Food for Peace Campaign groups were established throughout Victoria.
In 1962, a full-time campaign director was appointed and the name was changed to Community Aid Abroad. The new name reflected an aim to assist communities more broadly, rather than just providing food in order to maintain peace. Throughout the 1960s, local Community Aid Abroad groups were established across Australia.
The Australian Freedom from Hunger Campaign was launched in 1961 following the launch of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation’s five-year campaign, Freedom from Hunger. This community-based campaign was aimed at raising global awareness about poverty issues around the world and provided opportunities for people to directly support anti-poverty programs in developing countries.
Membership was initially open to organisations rather than individuals and these included unions and community interest groups. The campaign grew to become a national organisation in 1964 that conducted appeals for countries including India, Timor-Leste, Cambodia and Ethiopia, and supported Aboriginal issues and programs in Australia.
The Australian Freedom from Hunger Campaign and Community Aid Abroad merged in 1992 to become one of Australia’s largest international development organisations. As a founding member of Oxfam International, we changed our name to Oxfam Community Aid Abroad in 2001 and then to Oxfam Australia in 2005.
No worthwhile task is ever begun except by those with a vision. Visionaries however must be practical. We try to be practical by giving what we can and inducing others to do likewise. — Father Gerard Kennedy Tucker
Oxfam Shop history
Community Aid Abroad established Trade Action Pty Ltd in 1965, selling goods that had been handmade by project partners. By 1978, Trade Action had 22 stores nationally, with profits being used to subsidise Community Aid Abroad’s administration costs.
After Trade Action was sold in 1979, Community Aid Abroad continued selling handicrafts through local groups. In 1986, these ventures were brought under one umbrella called Community Aid Abroad Trading, which later became known as Oxfam Australia Trading.
In 2019, Oxfam Australia’s Board made the difficult decision to close its trading operations, including our online and retail stores as part of Oxfam Shop.
In the final 12 months of operation, Oxfam Shop customers helped support 87 producer partners, devoured 13,446kg of Fairtrade certified chocolate, and provided $3.2 million in payments to producers around the world.