Charity awareness encouraged

AS THE International Day of Charity is commemorated around the world today, local charities have urged people to retain their compassion and remember the importance of giving back to their community.

Salvation Army northern district captain Andrew van Gaalen said charities had to work harder to engage with people because there were so many different causes and campaigns.

"There is a plethora of charities out there at the moment, with a lot of people asking for the spare change out of people's pockets," he said.

Mr van Gaalen said about $30,000 was raised earlier this year during the Red Shield Appeal, and he praised the generosity of the Bendigo community. 

"We are down on collecting this year, but people are giving what they can," he said.

There is a plethora of charities out there at the moment

Andrew van Gaalen

He said people were more likely to donate to causes if they or a close relative had been directly affected by something.

St Luke's Anglicare Bendigo community programs senior manager Phil Eddy said  there were other important aspects of charity involvement besides donating money.

"There's volunteering and assisting people, and it's very important to help people connect with our community," he said.

He said wider forces had an impact on the role of charity.

"Charity definitely helps, but we need structural change that helps provide people with access to education, safe and affordable housing and jobs," he said.

Mr Eddy said 17 per cent of Bendigo's population was defined as financially excluded, meaning they lack access to a bank account, insurance or a line credit.

St Luke's Anglicare runs programs in areas such as youth services, children's and family service, mental health and counselling services and disability, as well as offering financial advice and assistance to those who may be struggling.

Good Friday Appeal deputy director Emoke Bakacs said these days, people liked to research charities and get a clear idea about where their money was going. 

"People like to know a bit more before they donate, they're a bit more astute," she said.

Ms Bakacs said the community always responded well to the Royal Children's Hospital Good Friday Appeal.

 "We are a state of givers. We put our hands in our pockets for the CFA and other groups that support us, we really are the lucky people."

The International Day of Charity was established to commemorate the death of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 for her charitable work.

People and organisations around the world are encouraged to use the day to raise awareness about the importance of charity.

Mother Teresa died on September 5 1997.


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