Media Release

December 1st, 2008

Westpac CEO Gail Kelly and other prominent Australians are encouraging companies to rethink the way we give this Christmas.

Ms Kelly has challenged firms to follow Westpac's lead and support the giving efforts of their employees, while leading businesswoman Carol Schwartz has recommended scholarships as a great way of providing widespread benefits. Meanwhile, St Vincent de Paul CEO John Falzon wants to see a greater sense of community, and Gold Coast Mayor Ron Clarke thinks more should be done for the disadvantaged.

"I love it when people strive to make a difference and believe businesses should support the giving efforts of their people," Gail Kelly said.

Christmas giving suggestions (many of which require no money) offered by a number of prominent Australians range from giving an unemployed person a fair go, to buying a cow for a struggling family in Asia and donating unwanted cooking equipment to a local charity.

They are among the dozens of giving ideas compiled as part of Australian Giving Week, which is taking place form December 1-7. The Giving Week website - - also contains links to help turn good intentions into reality. Other suggestions include:

  • Donate to your favourite community group at the Australian Giving Centre.
  • Send greetings and help the community with Community Giving cards.
  • Swap gifts for donations.
  • Sponsor a native animal.
  • Buy your presents from a community group.
  • Buy a "present" for an overseas effort - a duck, a well, etc.
  • Buy an extra present to contribute to a gift appeal.
  • Buy an extra can of food and place it in a donation bin at your supermarket.
  • Have a sustainable Christmas by sponsoring a tree in a community garden.
  • Make a commitment to reduce the waste produced this Christmas.
  • Donate a gold coin to a good cause.
  • Use a community group caterer for your office Christmas party.

Giving Week has run each December since 2005 to focus attention on the many ways that individuals, families, businesses and groups can make a difference to the community in the lead-up to Christmas.

It is an initiative of Our Community in conjunction with Westpac. Our Community is a world-leading social enterprise that works to support and accelerate the impact of Australia's 700,000 community and not-for-profit groups.

"In Australia, we may be looking at a jiggle in the graph of an otherwise ever-rising level of prosperity, but it's worth reminding ourselves how well off we are by the standards of every other time in human history," Our Community CEO Dr Rhonda Galbally said.

"If we have enough now, what are we going to have after Christmas?

"Australian Giving Week aims to shift some of the giving away from the people who have too much to the people who don't; from people who are becoming hysterical from Christmas present overload to people who are really going to be grateful; from presents that degrade the environment to presents that come from the heart.

"Community groups need support all year round but Giving Week is a great time for everyone to get started."


"I love it when people strive to make a difference and believe businesses should support the giving efforts of their people. At Westpac our people can choose the charities they support and through our Matching Gifts Program, we match employee donations dollar for dollar to any tax deductible charity in Australia. We also offer our people a day of paid leave each year for volunteer work with a not for profit organisation."

- Gail Kelly, CEO, Westpac

"If possible it would be great to do something extra special for the disadvantaged in our community. Be grateful for what you have and share the joy!"

- Cr Ron Clarke MBE, former Olympic runner and Gold Coast Mayor

"One of the most important things we can do is change the way we think about society. We need to regain our sense of community and to teach this to our children. From this forms not only a strong sense of generosity but also a strong sense of justice." - John Falzon, CEO, St Vincent de Paul "At the very least - to our friends and family we might give a greater gift of our time, our attention and our love."

- Fr Joe Caddy, prison chaplain and CEO, Centacare Catholic Family Services

"Give some of your excess cooking equipment or some of your cookbooks to someone you know who is struggling, or to your local op shop. Many people can't afford basic cookware."

- Gabriel Gaté, celebrity chef

"Get 'mooving' - and buy a cow at"

- Dr Simon Longstaff, executive director, St James Ethics Centre

"Give a scholarship - I love to give scholarships - for example, a Western Chances Scholarship, which not only benefits the recipient financially, but also their family, their school and their community through the acknowledgment of the recipient's achievements."

- Carol Schwartz, businesswoman & chair, Our Community

For other information and comments about Australian Giving Week please contact (03) 9320 6800 or email to