Does Charity Begin at Home?

Proudly appearing as part of the Melbourne Writers' Festival 'Big Ideas' series

"Does Charity Begin at Home?"

After the recent devastating floods in Queensland and Victoria, some suggested that we should assist people here before assisting those in other parts of the world facing similar or worse hardship.

The instinct to protect those closest to us is very human. But in a globalised world, 'friends' and 'community' are increasingly linked across borders. Television brings the plight of a young boy in Japan to the home of a young boy in Australia. So where is 'home'? Is it Melbourne, Australia, our region, or the world? And is 'charity' the right word to use anyway?

How should we prioritise the needs of people in Brazil affected by the January mudslide which killed 500, against the needs of those closer to home? Or the urgency of responding to the violence against women in Australia and in our region? Or addressing the daily grinding poverty around the world where a billion people don't know where their next meal is coming from? What are the broader effects of this inequality and what is the solution?

In Australia we are lucky to have an able and responsive government, well-developed insurance systems and effective services to respond to community needs. But in many developing contexts, its a very different story. When two-thirds of the world is poor, can we afford not to take their needs and rights seriously, just because they are beyond our borders? What obligation do we have to assist poor women and men in countries other than our own?

Are we Melbourne citizens or global citizens? Or both?

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  • Venue BMW Edge, Federation Square Melbourne, VIC,
  • Date & time 30/08/2011 6:30:00 PM
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