History History

For 75 years CARE has been helping people in need

For 75 years CARE has been helping people in need

75 years of CARE

CARE was founded in 1945 when 22 organisations came together to rush life-saving CARE packages to survivors of World War II. 75 years ago, those CARE packages arrived at a Viennese train station. Vienna was called the “hungriest city of the world” and people – especially the children – were suffering desperately from the horrific impacts of the war. These packages contained food and basic supplies to families facing hunger and poverty in post-war Europe.

As these countries began recovering, CARE’s work shifted from Europe to the developing world, including in Asia and Latin America. In the 1950s, CARE began using surplus food to feed the hungry in developing countries. Some 100 million CARE packages were sent over two decades.

The following decade, CARE pioneered primary healthcare programs and in the 1970s responded to massive famines in Africa with both emergency relief and long-term agricultural projects.

These days CARE International’s community development work spans 100 countries across regions including Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. Our work focuses on empowering communities to create their own lasting change.

Fast facts

  • CARE originally stood for “Cooperative for American Remittances to Europe”
  • Some 100 million CARE packages were sent to European nations post-war
  • The global CARE partnership is made up of 14 countries including Australia

CARE Australia

Over the past 75 years, CARE International members have expanded across 21 countries, to create one of the world’s largest, independent humanitarian relief agencies. These countries include: Austria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, France, Georgia, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, Luxembourg, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Sri Lanka, Thailand, the UK, the USA and Australia.

The Rt Hon. Malcolm Fraser wanted to create the ‘Australian face of international aid’ when he became the founding Chair of CARE Australia in 1987 and President of CARE International from 1991. The former Prime Minister was passionate about humanitarian aid and cared deeply for people living in poverty and crisis around the world.

As a leading supporter for the welcoming of refugees from Indochina and Vietnam, Malcolm Fraser became closely involved in the ongoing challenges international aid presented, which stood out against many of his predecessors. Malcolm believed that as rich and fortunate people, Australians had a responsibility to assist those in need, wherein 2002 he stated “CARE can’t do it alone. The help that the Australian community provides CARE is essential for our continued existence.”

With thanks to our generous supporters, in 2020/21, CARE Australia assisted more than 2.3 million people across 24 countries including in response to 15 emergencies. Find out more by visiting our Annual Reports page.

CARE Today

CARE Australia works to defeat global poverty by supporting women to create lasting change in their communities around the world. Our programs focus on women because we know that when one woman breaks free from poverty, she brings another four people with her — and that’s a powerful multiplier.

We work in partnership with local community leaders to prepare for, respond to, and recover from humanitarian crises and shock. And we support people to determine their own futures by challenging unjust systems that keep people in poverty.

CARE Australia is one member of the global CARE Confederation, working with communities all over the world — every one of us tightly focused on where we can each best support local communities to defeat poverty and social inequality.

In 2020/21, CARE Australia assisted 2.3 million people across 24 countries, with revenue of $77.1 million. We responded to 15emergencies across 19 countries, and 903,000 people received humanitarian assistance.

CARE Australia is committed to moving away from traditional aid models that reinforce paternalistic and neo-colonialist structures. Instead, we aim to empower local and women-led organisations to determine where funds can be best spent for long-term, systemic change. CARE Australia’s proximity to the south Pacific islands and South-East Asia makes building relationships possible, productive and powerful.

We aim to be ‘as local as possible, and as international as necessary’, which means maximising the potential of local people and organisations before requesting international support. Even if international support is accepted, local leaders should have decision-making power and control over how resources are used.

Our vision is for a global network of local partners who are supported by CARE to keep their communities safe and thriving. But that doesn’t mean just working with local organisations who work in the same way we do. We also support social movements, because getting people to participate in informal action can be just as powerful as formal programs.

This way of working is smarter, more sustainable, and it puts resources into the hands of locals. It’s the very essence of what CARE is working towards — a world where everyone can determine their own future.

Malcolm Fraser

The man who helped Australia become a leader in international aid

Malcolm Fraser was one of Australia’s longest-serving prime ministers, having held the position for seven and a half years, between 1975 to 1983. Following his retirement from parliament after 28 years, Malcolm played an important role in supporting international humanitarian aid, caring deeply for people living in poverty and crisis around the world. As a leading supporter for the welcoming of refugees from Indochina and Vietnam, Malcolm Fraser became closely involved in the challenges international aid presented, an avenue many of his predecessors ignored. This led Malcolm to establish a review of programs and services for the sector, which included the establishment of the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS), to reflect Australia’s diversity.  

In 1987, Malcolm Fraser wanted to create the ‘Australian face of international aid’ when he became the founding chairperson of CARE Australia and President of CARE International from 1991. Malcolm placed himself in the midst of the world’s worst humanitarian crises, visiting CARE emergency operations, to witness the ordeal people were experiencing first hand, and to support staff in their relief efforts.

Malcolm’s work in humanitarian aid was fondly regarded by many, including former PM Bob Hawke, who commended Malcolm for becoming “an outstanding figure in the advancement of human rights issues in all respects,” and he praised him for being “extraordinarily generous and welcoming to refugees.”  

“If we had a world where CARE was no longer needed, we would all be happy but the reality is that where poverty exists, CARE will exist.” – Malcolm Fraser, 2002.

Help Malcolm Fraser’s legacy continue, by supporting CARE Australia’s work to defeat poverty.