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Advocacy and Campaigns Update

Advocacy and Campaigns Update

DATE: 12 June 2020

Thank you for joining us in taking action for change. Unfortunately we have some tough news.

Oxfam’s life-saving work is needed now more than ever to respond to COVID-19 and multiple other crises that threaten to deepen poverty and inequality. But at the same time, the economic downturn caused by the pandemic has pushed us into a very challenging financial position. Oxfam entered this period in a weakened financial position, following several years of reduced fundraising income and a persistent decline in the overseas aid budget.

Since October last year, we have been developing a new strategic plan that reaffirms campaigning to challenge power and transform systems as part of our core work, and that is based on a leaner and more agile organisational model.

Unfortunately, events have overtaken these plans and forced us to radically and urgently reduce costs in Australia, to ensure that we can continue to meet our programming obligations both to the communities and partners we work with in the Asia Pacific region and beyond. This includes very important influencing work in countries to address the root causes of poverty and inequality.

This does sadly mean that we are having to significantly reduce our capacity for public campaigning and mobilisation in Australia for at least the next 12 months.

The power of people is real and your engagement with us has been essential to our work. Together, we have achieved so much, and there is much more to do.  

With reduced capacity, we will continue to influence change in line with the key priorities in our new strategic plan, and to work with you and others to influence positive change and hold decision makers to account in Australia.

Here’s what these changes mean for some of the campaigns and engagements you’ve had with us recently:

What She Makes

what she makes
Shabana, a former textile worker and Rana Plaza survivor, pictured at her tailor shop where she now works in Dhaka’s Savar region.

What She Makes is a world-leading campaign with resounding global impact. Thanks to all of you, we’ve been able to push companies further than anywhere else around the world. Twelve companies, representing more than 20 brands, have made public commitments to ensuring a living wage. If implemented, these promises will have a positive impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of the women who make our clothes, currently being paid poverty wages.

That’s why we will continue this important work. The campaign will look a little different from the past, but we will continue to push for critical improvements in the Australian garment industry. Standing alongside the women who make our clothes and with our partners, we will keep holding big, powerful brands to account.

Sign the pledge to help us tackle poverty in the fashion industry and stand in solidarity with the women who make our clothes.

Families Together

Lucy holds her granddaughter while her daughter looks on, reunited through Families Together.

The Families Together campaign has reminded us that families are equal and none should be forced to live apart. The last few months living with COVID-19 have reinforced the importance of family to our wellbeing. So, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for joining us to call for an increased humanitarian intake in Australia, and for refugees and humanitarian migrants to be able to reunite with loved ones.

Given our reduced resources, Oxfam will unfortunately no longer continue this campaign. We suggest you support the National Refugee Advocacy and Advisory Group, the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre and Refugee Legal, who continue to do brilliant work on this issue.

While we are no longer campaigning in Australia, we will continue to provide life-saving support to refugees around the world, including in places like Za’atari Refugee Camp in Jordan and Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh. In these refugee camps, Oxfam’s work aims to provide basic necessities like water and soap to refugees, as well as improved hygiene and sanitation facilities.


Suad Hassan fled the Ta’izz region because of frequent armed clashes. Today she lives in a camp in Al Malika. Collecting water is an arduous task.

The humanitarian crisis continues to unfold in Yemen, made even worse by the largely unmonitored spread of COVID-19. Thank you for taking action with us to raise the profile of this crisis in Australia, and draw attention to the ways in which our arms exports may be fuelling the war. We will continue to reinforce your concern in our engagements with the Australian Government, and where we can, to support allies who will continue to work on this critical issue. Oxfam’s life-saving humanitarian response with local partners in Yemen will also continue.

Activist Training

Our activist training program Change Initiative will be winding down over the coming weeks. Oxfam will no longer be offering Change Initiative after the current 2020 program concludes.

While this is very unfortunate, there are many other organisations who offer excellent community engagement and activist training and resources.  If you want to dive into that now, we’d recommend:

  • Checking out this free online course from Oxfam International: Make Change Happen. If we want to make effective and lasting social change, we must understand power dynamics, social systems and how change really happens.

The Commons Social Change Library which has a collection of resources and key lessons of progressive movements around Australia and across the globe.

Our Strategic Plan

Through our strategic planning process, Oxfam has confirmed that campaigning to influence change and hold leaders accountable is a core part of our mission. We have also identified four key themes that we’ll focus on as part of making a contribution to achieving a just and sustainable world free from poverty. They are:

  • First Peoples’ Justice: Working in solidarity with Australia’s First Nations Peoples towards justice, equality, and self-determination, including through continued support for Close the Gap.
  • Gender Justice: Challenge harmful gender norms and expose patriarchal practices preventing women and non-binary people from fulfilling their potential.
  • Climate Justice: Advocate to end the climate crisis and support communities who are most vulnerable to climate change.
  • Just Economies: Expose and change the policies and systems that lead to poverty, economic injustice and exclusion.

In addition to these key areas, life-saving humanitarian response, and the rights of people in crisis, will continue to form a key part of the work we do.

To the extent that we can with the resources we have available over the coming years, we will campaign for change in Australia in these areas, and we’ll invite you to join us.