Australia Must Emerge from ‘Bubble of Self-Pity’
11 February 2016 at 11:11 am
This year the Australian public must emerge from a “bubble of self-pity”, Not for Profit leader Tim Costello said in Pro Bono Australia’s inaugural podcast episode.
Not for Podcast, which launched today, brings together father-son duo Tim and Elliot Costello for the first time. Tim Costello is CEO of World Vision Australia, and his son Elliot Costello runs his own organisation, YGAP.
“We have still a rich nation, the third richest on a per-capita basis in the world. The bubble of self-pity has been ‘we’re all hurting, we’re all victims’, and politicians, to get our vote, have said ‘we feel your pain,’” Costello said.Tim Costello said that Australian’s despondency, which was affecting their sense of charity, was self-imposed, and politicians had used this to their advantage.
“That has profoundly affected, and even evaporated, some of the charitable instinct in Australians who are all fearful and saying ‘I’ve just got to look after myself.’
“If I had a dollar for every time an Australian stopped me and said ‘Tim, we’ve just got to look after our own here, that’s why I don’t support anything overseas’ I’d be a rich man.
“What they’re really saying as the subtext is, charity begins at home and ends at home.”
Costello said 2016 must be the year that the country looks beyond its borders to support international aid.
“We have the capacity to do charity and look after our own poor here, and to actually be generous to the poor overseas,” he said.
“We live in a global village, and the world as a waterbed means you press down in one place it comes up here.
“We’re seeing this with climate change debates, with financial meltdowns… we’re seeing it with global epidemics, we’re seeing it with wars in a place like Syria.
“We know we have to do both, we have to say we’re blessed, we can get out of this bubble of self-pity, we can make a difference.”
In contrast, Elliot Costello focussed on the sector and said that, this year, charities need to begin with change at home.
He said the ecosystem of Not for Profits was becoming too large to sustain, and drew on figures from the ACNC late last year into the size of the sector.
Elliot Costello heads YGAP, an organisation that uses social enterprise and campaigns, to support overseas aid. Despite the focus on innovation, he said fundraising is a constant challenge.
“Even for small start-up it is getting very competitive, we’re pushing a few boundaries with how we fundraise but we’re still asking people for money essentially,” Elliot Costello said.
“I’d love to see a few mergers and acquisitions, not just with small organisations but some larger ones too. That would take significant leadership, but it would also credit the sector.
“For the public that wants to see impact and change, [we need to show] that we’re prepared to put down a few egos, move the boards aside and really enable ourselves to focus on changing lives.
“A major challenge and call would be for organisations to think about how they can not be so focussed on their own organisation, but focus on the actual impact.”
In the first episode of Not for Podcast, called The Generation Gap, Tim and Elliot Costello dissect Australia’s charity landscape. It will be available for free download on iTunes and Pro Bono Australia’s website on 16 February.
Not for Podcast delivers exclusive news and analysis on the things that matter from the voices of Australia’s social sector.
Story updated 16 February 3:38pm