Australians Committed to Helping Those in Need
19 June 2018 at 5:18 pm
An overwhelming majority of Australians are committed to doing more to help people in need with young people and women driving the charge, according to new research from Australian Red Cross.
The charity released its latest research on Sunday, coinciding with the launch of Red Cross’s annual Bring More Good Appeal.
The national online survey of 2,094 people found that four out of five (81 per cent) were likely to help children and young people who need support in the next two years.
A similar proportion of people (77 per cent) agreed with the statement: “we should be doing more than just thinking about helping others in need – we should be taking action at an individual level”.
Australian Red Cross CEO Judy Slatyer, said there were a number of pleasing findings from the survey.
“Our survey shows that nearly four out of five (77 per cent) Australians believe we need to walk the talk and take greater individual action to help those in need,” Slatyer said.
“Australians really care about the people in their communities. We’ve found that more than eight out of 10 people (87 per cent) say they would be likely to help if natural disasters struck in Australia or overseas in the next two years.”
The study showed that most Australians cared about making their communities a better place, with almost two in three people (65 per cent) wanting to do more to help others.
Slatyer said Australians were among the most generous people in the world.
“A number of global studies in recent years confirm that Australians are among the most generous in the world,” she said.
“It’s wonderful to see that even if times can be tough for many people in these cold winter months, Australians feel that it’s well within their reach to make a real difference and help their neighbours.
“Even when media headlines often focus on doom and gloom, we must remember that most of us are generous and want to help others in our local communities.”
Digging deeper into the data, the results found that women were slightly more compassionate than men, with women 1.3 times more likely to help those in need compared to men.
Women were also more likely to believe that action should be taken at an individual level and were more connected with humanitarian issues in their day-to-day life than men.
Slatyer told Pro Bono News that this did not surprise her.
“I think Red Cross knows throughout its over 100 year history that women are the ones who take a lot of the lead, in terms of the compassionate side of society, but also in the practical help needed to keep society together and working,” she said.
The research also indicated that young people were more likely to want to help people in need than older generations.
People under 25 were found to be 1.5 times more likely to want to help others than people over 65 years old.
In fact, people under 25 were found to be more committed to take individual action than all other age groups.
Slatyer said this was a really positive finding from the survey.
“What we’re finding from the work that we’ve been doing and the research we’ve been doing, is that young people are very interested in getting involved in issues that they care about, whether it’s mental health or discrimination or homelessness,” she said.
“And we’re finding that they really do want to be involved. For example one of the big issues many young people face is loneliness and we’ve just launched an initiative called Beat Loneliness, which is around encouraging young people to get involved and we’ve already had – in the space of a few weeks – about 4,000 young people signed up to participate.”
Slatyer said charities needed to ensure they adapted to the needs of young people to engage them in their causes.
“What it does show though is that organisations like Red Cross need to change, as we are, so that we can make being involved and participating easy and social and relevant to young people in their busy lives and that’s what we’ve been focused on,” she said.
“I see some great examples around with our sector peers. I think there’s great recognition of it and new [projects] in place, whether it’s around innovation or building new initiatives with young people.”
Despite recent research suggesting that fewer Australians are donating to charity, Slatyer said when factors like volunteering were considered, Australians were just as generous as ever.
“It’s more than just a financial contribution, even though that’s obviously important, it’s also the time people commit,” she said.
“And when we talk to the communities, we get a lot of positive contributions, for example with Red Cross Calling in March, we had around 14,000 people out raising funds for Red Cross which is double what it was last year.
“So there’s lots of ways that people can participate and that’s part of what we are really putting forward in this Bring More Good appeal, but donations remain important which is why we’re also asking [for donations] because that’s the way that suits some people best to contribute.”
This comes as public support for humanitarian relief has reached a new high, according to the national director of Australia for UNHCR.
Australia for UNHCR’s 2017 annual report revealed a record $38.7 million was raised from the Australian private sector, placing the organisation in the top 10 of non-government donors to UNHCR – the lead global agency for the protection of people fleeing conflict and persecution.
Australia for UNHCR national director Naomi Steer said these figures demonstrated “loud and clear” that Australians stood with refugees and cared deeply about delivering humanitarian relief.
“Less than one per cent of refugees are ever formally resettled in third countries like Australia – the vast majority are hosted in developing countries,” Steer said.
“Public support is urgently needed to support UNHCR’s emergency humanitarian interventions and longer-term solutions, such as healthcare, education and livelihoods.”