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Political Leaders to Blame for Loss of ‘Charity’ – Costello


10 March 2016 at 11:47 am
Lina Caneva
World Vision’s CEO Tim Costello has painted a grim picture of the state of giving in Australia and the Not for Profit sector in an interview being aired on television at the weekend.

Lina Caneva | 10 March 2016 at 11:47 am


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Political Leaders to Blame for Loss of ‘Charity’ – Costello
10 March 2016 at 11:47 am

World Vision’s CEO Tim Costello has painted a grim picture of the state of giving in Australia and the Not for Profit sector in an interview being aired on television at the weekend.

In an episode of The Conversation with Alex Malley, Tim Costello said he has never seen a worse period for charity in Australia and blames the failings of Australia’s political leaders for Australians’ waning compassion and giving.

“I have seen a shrinking of the Australian soul, and I do attribute it to leadership,” Costello said during the one-on-one interview with host Alex Malley, the CEO of accounting peak body CPA Australia.

“I think the leadership has been relentlessly negative and fear prone, unnecessarily polarised.”

Last year World Vision was forced to lay off 89 staff due to funding cuts.

“This has been the worst time of my life in 12 years at World Vision,” he said.

“I’ve lain awake at night… just seeing faces of staff who are passionate, professional, who did nothing wrong, and we’re saying, ‘you’re now part of the World Vision alumni.’”

In Pro Bono Australia’s inaugural Podcast in February Tim Costello said that in 2016 the Australian public must emerge from a “bubble of self-pity”.

“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.

Costello said that Australian’s despondency, which was affecting their sense of charity, was self-imposed, and politicians had used this to their advantage.

In the pre-recorded television interview with Malley, Costello also reflected on the immense feelings of self-doubt he faced when he was appointed to such a significant leadership role at World Vision.

“My wife will tell you, after my first day here at World Vision, I came home, I was so overwhelmed I lay in bed and I said, ‘I don’t want to go in tomorrow,’” Costello said.

“It was absolutely overwhelming and it took me some time to really find my feet.”

Costello spoke on his relationship with his brother, former Federal Treasurer Peter Costello, and admitted they had experienced some testing times when he was in the Howard government.

“I could call it as I saw it, and sometimes it was against the Howard government and some things Peter was doing. There’s no question those moments involved friction,” he said.

Another testing period for Costello was during his time as Mayor of St Kilda Council. He clashed with then premier of Victoria, Jeff Kennett, on a number of public initiatives, including the opening of Crown Casino in 1994.

Gambling and the detrimental impact it can have on people and families is an issue Costello remains outspoken on.

“To say ‘gamble responsibly’ is as sensible as saying ‘use cocaine responsibly,’” Costello said.

“For Australia to have 20 per cent of the world’s pokies, to have the greatest number of problem gamblers, bar no other country in the world, has been a national shame.”


Lina Caneva  |  Editor  |  @ProBonoNews

Lina Caneva has been a journalist for more than 35 years. She was the editor of Pro Bono Australia News from when it was founded in 2000 until 2018.

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