The Human Face of International Aid: Are We Fixated on Tragedy?


We hear heartbreaking stories on a daily basis of famine; loss of life and family; displacement; civil and racial war; abuse. Yet there are so many stories of hope that could be told. In the last 10 years measles deaths have reduced by 74%. In the last 20 years the number of maternal deaths has decreased by almost 50%, in 2008-2009 the Australian Governments Overseas Aid program put $318m into Education projects around the world. For people living in poverty, these things can be like a new lease on life. For people living in poverty, these things can be like a new lease on life.

It sounds impressive, but do you ever wonder what these big numbers really mean? Ultimately they represent transformations in the lives of real people, yet we hear so little about the human stories behind them. How do we better explain how these ‘big numbers’ represent the true impact on people’s lives?

International aid and development is making a difference when it comes to reducing poverty and improving lives, so why is so difficult to get these stories of hope out there in the same way as we do the crises? Do people simply prefer to hear about tragedy, or are the complexities of international aid and development too difficult to effectively portray?

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  • Venue Pacific Cultures Gallery, South Australian Museum,
  • Date & time 23/10/2012 5:30:00 PM 5:30pm - 7:00pm


Ginny Stein on becoming fatigued as a journalist
Ginny Stein on wanting to let people know what is happening
Ginny Stein on what keeps her going back
Scott Kelleher on how government funding decisions are made
Scott Kelleher on the political motivations for giving funding
The Human Face of International Aid
Tim Costello on sponsoring a child
Tim Costello on the obstacles to people giving
Tim Costello on whether Australians believe human rights are universal
Tim Costello on why you tell stories