Postal Address: Act for Peace, Locked Bag Q199, QUEEN VICTORIA BUILDING NSW 1230, Australia
Office Location: Level 7, 379 Kent Street, Sydney NSW, Australia
- Founded in 1948 as the aid agency of the Australian Council for the World Council of Churches.
- Focused on assisting refugees displaced by World War II and emergencies. The Christmas Bowl was a visionary community appeal to help people around the world who are victims of disease, poverty and violence.
- Our work has always had an emphasis on international long-term development.
- Forceten (now known as Act for Peace Partners) was the first ecumenical regular giving opportunity in Australia formed in 1967.
- We have been responsible for the resettlement of over 75,000 refugees from around the world.
- We became Act for Peace in 2008 with an increased emphasis on assisting communities most affected by conflicts.
- Our partners on the ground are assisting more than 500,000 refugees and 1 million people living in extreme poverty.
Act for Peace, the international aid agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia, has undergone many transformations since its inception in 1948. As an organization, we are indebted to the churches of Australia for working together to promote our shared humanity across Australia.
Our services began in 1948 with the sending of food and non-food items to refugees and internally displaced people following the Second World War. On Christmas Day 1949, the Reverend Frank Byatt of Victoria placed an empty bowl on the dinner table and asked all present to give what they considered to be the cost of the meal.
Frank urged his guests to reflect on their good fortunes and encouraged them to do something selfless for the people around the world who are victims of disease, poverty and violence. This small but significant gesture of charity has resonated deeply with thousands of Australians and has shown that we all have the ability to make a difference, no matter how small the gift. This action became the very first Christmas Bowl appeal. It only raised ₤1,808, but has now reached over $2 million each year.
In 2007, a new strategic direction was developed, including our name change to Act for Peace. This decision was the result of numerous consultations with domestic and international stakeholders and supporters. It was widely agreed that the name Act for Peace best described the work we undertake with partners in conflict areas.
Act for Peace is a member of the global ACT (Action by Churches Together) alliance, which helps communities affected by poverty and conflict in more than 150 countries. We respond to all conflicts and work long-term in many of the world’s most protracted conflicts. For example, we have worked with partners for over 20 years in Sudan, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Burma, Sri Lanka, Palestine, Indonesia, as well as in the Pacific and with Indigenous and refugee communities in Australia.
In building the foundations for real and lasting peace in the places where we work, it is vital to:
- Reduce poverty through growing community food, health and education programs
- Protect refugees and displaced people by helping communities to manage safe refugee camps
- Prevent conflicts through facilitating community-driven peace, reconciliation and disarmament processes
- Empower communities by helping them to lead this work and all aspects of their own development
We will continue to ensure that our projects are targeted towards those who need help most and where the most significant results can be achieved.
Act for Peace in Palestine/Israel
Act for Peace supports the Middle East Council of Churches’ Department of Service to Palestinian Refugees in the operation of primary health care clinics in the Gaza Strip. The Gaza health centres were established in 1952 in Shijaiya, Darraj and Rafah localities, and provide vital health care services in poor, densely populated and isolated areas. These health centres provide primary health care services to close to 100,000 vulnerable and economically disadvantaged people, supporting baby and mother care, nutrition and dental care, in addition to laboratory testing services, clinical examinations and the provision of free prescribed medicine. Especially notable is our partner’s work in tackling childhood anaemia and malnutrition, as well as their comprehensive package of services to expectant mothers and young babies. The health program has helped to stabilize health conditions in target localities, increase the quality and scope of services, and improve health knowledge and awareness amongst the population.
Act for Peace also facilitates the deployment of Australians to the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI). EAPPI is a global program of the World Council of Churches, run in conjunction with local churches and Palestinian NGOs and communities. The program’s mission is to accompany Palestinians and Israelis in non-violent actions and concerted advocacy efforts to end the occupation of Palestine. The Ecumenical Accompaniers (EAs) spend three months a year working with vulnerable communities, monitoring and promoting the protection of human rights. In 2011, Act for Peace funded the deployment of three Australian EAs to flashpoints in the West Bank. Accounts from the Australian EAs can be found on the blog section of our website.
Please click here to watch videos where some of the people who are working for peace and justice in Israel and Palestine share their stories.