50 Years of Action on Poverty

This year, Action on Poverty celebrates 50 years of life-changing work.

From a small organisation focusing on the South Pacific, to a fully-fledged development agency working across three continents – we’ve come a long way.

Our story begins

Over 50 years ago, a small group of friends came together to support charitable work in the Pacific. They were led by an Australian actress, Betty Bryant, and an Australian Marist Brother, Father Stan Hosie.

After marrying the head of MGM Studios, ‘Red’ Silverstein, Betty moved to the United States. Her passion and connection with the film stars of the day enabled the fledgling Foundation for the South Pacific to gain a high profile and grow rapidly from its base in New York.

Growing up

Naturally, the two Australians wanted to put an Australian face on their Foundation. In 1968, their organisation was renamed the Australian Foundation for the Peoples of the South Pacific and was registered in Sydney. The Foundation was run from a donated office space, and had no paid staff for the first 20 years of its operation.

Slowly the Foundation expanded, taking on its first part-time employee in the early 1990s when we began to support work in Asia. We were the first Australian agency to be recognised by the Vietnamese Government in 1995.

In the late 1990s we won a grant from the Australian Government to trial our work in Zimbabwe, which marked yet another chapter in our growth.

Action on Poverty at 50

In the past 50 years, we have grown from modest beginnings to become a fully-accredited international aid organisation. To date, we have worked in just about every development sector in 28 countries – a significant achievement for a small, independent Australian organisation.

In 2018 we are celebrating our history with a new name that reflects the broad range of work we now do all over the world: Action on Poverty.

Thank you

None of this would have been possible without the help of thousands of supporters over the years: tireless board members, hard-working volunteers and staff, and our passionate partners. Most important, of course, are those we serve – people who, by circumstances of birth, do not enjoy the same opportunities we take for granted.

Our growth is testimony to the power of a good idea and the value of partnership. We hope that our story illustrates our vision for all people to be able to transcend the injustice, indignity and inequality of entrenched poverty.  We still have much to learn and to teach each other.

We celebrate this anniversary with all those who have walked with us on a 50-year journey.  Here’s to all the changemakers out in their communities, taking action on poverty wherever they find a need.