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The 15 Biggest NGOs in Australia

NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) serve millions – if not billions – of people each year. These organizations, which are independent of governments, work on ending poverty, protecting kids, improving food security, providing healthcare, achieving gender equality and much more. Many NGOs are international. Australia, which is home to over 26 million people, has many NGOs based in or conducting activities within its borders. Here are 15 of the biggest examples:

# Organization
1 Action on Poverty
2 Amnesty International Australia
3 Asylum Seeker Resource Centre
4 Australian Human Rights Commission
5 Australian Red Cross
6 Australia for Native Title and Reconciliation
7 CARE Australia
8 Caritas Australia
9 ChildFund Australia
10 Human Rights Law Centre
11 Oaktree
12 Oxfam Australia
13 Partners in Aid
14 Refugee Migrant Children Centre
15 Transform Aid International

 #1. Action on Poverty

Founded in 1968 by an Australian actress and Marist priest, Action on Poverty reaches millions through its programs, global network and local organizations. It currently works in 14 countries addressing climate resilience, food and water security, governance and social accountability, gender equality, livelihoods and economic empowerment, and health. The NGO connects philanthropists, corporations, other non-profits and innovators with developing communities and local NGOs. The organization is fully accredited with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Evaluations on various projects can be found on the NGO’s website, alongside information on donations, volunteer opportunities and careers.

What is poverty? Read our article to learn what poverty is, its causes, and how you can take action.

#2. Amnesty International Australia

Amnesty International, which is based in the UK, has organizations around the world, including in Australia. The NGO was founded in 1961 and has grown into one of the world’s largest advocacy organizations. It has several campaigns addressing areas like refugee rights, climate justice, child rights, the death penalty and much more. Amnesty’s “Write For Rights” campaign, which is the NGO’s flagship letter-writing campaign, has been in operation for over two decades.

#3. Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC)

The Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) began in 2001. Once a student-run and community-funded food bank, ASRC has grown into an independent, community-led organization. It’s now the largest human rights organization supporting people seeking asylum in Australia. Its 40 programs address food and material aid, healthcare, support services, legal aid, education and training, and more. Thanks to community support, staff and volunteers, the Centre helps around 7,000 people each year. As an independent organization, ASRC does not accept government funds.

#4. Australian Human Rights Commission

The Australian Human Rights Commission is a bit different from the other organizations on this list because it was established by an act of Federal Parliament. Despite this, it is an independent, third-party organization. As Australia’s National Human Rights Institution, its work includes investigating and conciliating discrimination and human rights complaints, providing guidelines to employers, advocating to the government and others for human rights, and providing legal advice. They also promote human rights through training and education, events and discussion, media outreach, digital resources and social media communication.

#5. Australian Red Cross

The Australian Red Cross is part of a worldwide humanitarian aid network that reaches millions of people each year through National Societies. The Australian Branch of the British Red Cross Society was founded in 1914 after WWI began. Australia was recognized as its own national society in 1927. The organization mobilizes during natural disasters, war and other emergencies. The website offers resources for students, parents, educators, businesses and journalists, as well as information on how to become an Australian Red Cross member, how to donate, and how to volunteer.

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#6. Australia for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTAR)

Australia for Native Title and Reconciliation (ANTAR) describes itself as a “trusted Ally and Thought Leader” that offers information on First Nations rights and works for First Nations rights and justice. Since 1927, the organization has campaigned on key issues for First Nations people and communities, such as truth-telling, cultural heritage, justice, racism, voice and more. The NGO’s ultimate goal is creating a just Australia where the rights of First Peoples are “recognized, respected and enjoyed.” ANTAR is a non-partisan, independent non-profit affiliated with a national network of state and territory groups.

#7. CARE Australia

CARE Australia is an international humanitarian aid NGO focused on ending global poverty and addressing the needs of women and girls. It’s been operating for over 70 years across 94 countries. In 2019-2019, CARE Australia helped over 2.7 million people across 25 countries and responded to 14 emergencies across 21 countries. Because women and girls are among the most vulnerable groups in the world, CARE works to empower them through healthcare, education, employment and so on. The organization prioritizes good governance, disability inclusion, climate change resilience, and lessons and impact.

#8. Caritas Australia

Caritas Australia is an aid agency of the Australian Catholic Church. It focuses on eradicating poverty and injustice. The NGO is a member of Caritas Internationalis, which is one of the largest humanitarian networks in the world. Through locally-led programs, the NGO responds to emergencies, provides education, implements sustainable development, advocates for fair policies and addresses water sanitation issues. Its website offers resources and toolkits for schools, parishes, individuals, corporations, philanthropists and others. The NGO’s work is based on courage, compassion, stewardship and partnership.

#9. ChildFund Australia

ChildFund Australia is an independent international development NGO focused on children and young people. It’s part of the ChildFund Alliance, which is a global network of 11 organizations assisting almost 36 million kids and families in 70 countries. Its programs address child safety, education, public health, food security, empowerment and much more. ChildFund Australia is a member of the Australian Council for International Development, a signatory to the ACFID Code of Conduct and the ACFID Fundraising Charter, and a member of Accountable Now, which is a platform committed to transparency and impact. The organization used to employ child sponsorship as a strategy but is now transitioning to different methods.

Interested in learning more about NGOs that protect children’s rights? Here’s our article on 11 organizations offering children’s rights jobs.

#10. Human Rights Law Centre

The Human Rights Law Centre is an independent organization dedicated to human rights. Using strategic legal action, advocacy and policy solutions, the NGO works to end inequalities and injustice in Australia. Its impact areas include protecting democratic freedoms, partnering with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, promoting the rights of asylum-seekers and refugees, and strengthening the legal and institutional protection of human rights. The Centre takes on a few cases each year, which are developed with other organizations according to the Centre’s strategic priorities. You can find resources on the website, such as reports and explainers, as well as information about donations, careers and volunteer opportunities.

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#11. Oaktree

Oaktree is a youth-run organization focused on empowering kids to make an impact in their communities and the world. The NGO does this by providing resources, connecting youth-led organizations, advocating and campaigning for sustainable development and children’s rights, and providing skill-building opportunities for kids. Through the Oaktree Youth Solidarity Fund, Oaktree partners with youth-led organizations from across the Asia-Pacific region. Every year, Oaktree selects members based on the project they want to run. Members are given flexible grants and become part of the OYSF Network. In 2022, the fund launched with five partners who met through the year to share skills and support one another. Oaktree is a member of the Australian Council for International Development.

#12. Oxfam Australia

Oxfam Australia is part of Oxfam International, one of the world’s largest anti-poverty organizations. With partners, allies, communities and supporters, Oxfam Australia uses a human rights-based approach to development. Its priority areas include climate change, gender equality, economic inequality, humanitarian aid, safety and First Peoples justice. In 2021-2022, Oxfam Australia helped over 14 million people in crisis, raised more than $1.3 million through Trailwalker, and raised more than $30,000 at the NGO’s annual Comedy Gala. Oxfam Australia’s website offers impact reports and information on donations, volunteering and careers.

#13. Partners in Aid

Established in 1962, Partners in Aid provides support for communities in countries like India, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka. Once focused on shipping livestock, the organization has since expanded to community health and economic development. Today, Partners in Aid partners with the All Bengal Women’s Union and Social Education and Development Society in India; the Singanpad Association in the Philippines; and Y Gro in Sri Lanka. The website offers detailed reports on the NGO’s projects, as well as resources and information on membership, donations, careers and volunteering.

#14. Refugee Migrant Children Centre (RMCC)

The Refugee Migrant Children Centre supports school-aged kids from refugee and migrant backgrounds as they begin a life in Australia. RMCC partners with schools that have large numbers of kids from migrant and refugee backgrounds. They host after-school programs, which makes it convenient for kids to attend and strengthens communities. Programs are specialized and co-designed with the kids and families RMCC serves. Examples include after-school mentoring programs for secondary-school and primary-school students, school holiday programs, a supporting prep program, and educational material aid. RMCC also runs programs online and works with support services and local councils. You can find more information about donations, volunteer opportunities, and careers on the NGO’s website.

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#15. Transform Aid International

Transform Aid International is an anti-poverty Christian organization partnering with other Christian organizations around the world. It works with 36 in-country project partners in 20 countries through Baptist World Aid, which is supported by Australians. The NGO’s goal is to build leadership and capacity at a grassroots level. Partners and alliances include ACFID, Integral Alliance and the Australian government. You can find policies, documents, career, and board member information on the NGO’s website.

About the author

Emmaline Soken-Huberty

Emmaline Soken-Huberty is a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon. She started to become interested in human rights while attending college, eventually getting a concentration in human rights and humanitarianism. LGBTQ+ rights, women’s rights, and climate change are of special concern to her. In her spare time, she can be found reading or enjoying Oregon’s natural beauty with her husband and dog.

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