It is a long-held principle of Palms Global Mission Program to ask communities receiving program participants to cover the costs of hosting them. Qualified and experienced Australians are sent to build the capacity of their organisations through mentoring. Local responsibility for covering hosting costs mitigates potential temptation to engage “free” Australian professionals rather than pay an available local.
Principles don’t always apply.
I began my time as Executive Director in 2000. Australians had an acute awareness that the people of Timor Leste had been the victims of terrible violence within their own country and wanted to offer whatever assistance they could. With Anthony Gittins words ringing in my ears: (”A priceless gift a stranger can bring to a needy community is the moral gift of solidarity”) I arranged meetings in Timor Leste with local and international organisations attempting to build the capacity of people in Health, Education, Building and Community Development sectors.
Requests for Palms to recruit, prepare and send mentors were immediate. However, whilst in Timor it was also clear that it would be beyond most communities to provide accommodation and living allowances. But with no local professionals in Timor Leste at the time, the principle behind local responsibility for hosting those sent would not apply.
Inviting Australians to build opportunity with the most marginalised.
In the 20+ years since Timor Leste became the country with the greatest number on assignment. Of course the Palms Balance Sheet took some big hits. Effectively requiring double the average assignment expenditure, our efforts to build opportunity with the most marginalised at first meant fewer placements across the globe.
We began to generate income from Australian donors aware of the plight of the Timorese, and we began partnering with Australian and local organisations happy to cover program participant accommodation or living allowances. We also asked Australian Catholic dioceses to provide for the cost of preparing the people to be sent on their behalf. Larger ones were more willing and able.
Some costs were saved by asking all program participants to cover vaccinations and medications previously paid for by Palms. The Australian Catholic Bishops gratuity payments (see Director’s Reflection) no doubt assisted participants to cover these costs. Unfortunately, but for a few dioceses, the capacity of the Australian Catholic church to continue that support is diminishing.
Alternative organisational donors needed
Palms ability to meet requests to support, not only via sustainable capacity building, but more importantly, the moral gift of solidarity and mutual development can only continue with the most marginalised if we are able to find alternative organisational donors. For that purpose we are instigating the “Reach Beyond Fund” to create opportunities in remote communities.
The Reach Beyond Fund
The Fund intends to attract income:
- For the support of communities unable to cover hosting costs of program participants;
- From organisations not currently assisting Palms’ other income streams, or
- Those already supporting the program who wish to add to their contribution by more than a CPI adjustment;
Funds will be distributed:
- Through a committee of the Palms board (including donors to the fund);
- To support placement requests deemed most likely to achieve stated outcomes;
- When there is enough in the fund to support an eligible placement and
- When a suitable Program participant has been chosen by Palms staff for the placement.
If you wish to know more, or want to recommend an organisation to Palms, or Palms to an organisation or friends you believe could be asked to contribute, please contact me on 0422 472 567 or [email protected] with the Subject: Reach Beyond Fund.
In the meantime as the end of financial year approaches please donate any spare funds by opening this support current placements link.