How's this for a Christmas giving idea?

By Denis Moriarty, group managing director, Our Community

When will Australia stop pretending it's a fogbound island off the French coast? Here we are with the sun beating down and the prawns going off, still waiting for a visit from an old codger in fur-lined robes and funny hat to dispense good cheer to every household. Dammit, this is a whole other hemisphere! Let's do things our way!

Still, enough about the Queen's Christmas message. Whatever traditional or constitutional baubles we hang on it, Christmas is about consumption, and specifically about overconsumption - the day for too much of everything, pushing through the pain barrier at the table and burying the Christmas tree under gift-wrapped parcels.

It doesn't make much sense, of course - it's rather like giving your mum a dozen bottles of Penfold's Grange but insisting that she drinks them all in one day - but how many of Australia's economic (or constitutional) traditions do make sense? Every inefficiency, every bit of planned obsolescence, every piece of public waste, every unnecessary detour seems to have been built into the ugly ramshackle fabric of our society and signposted 'Do not touch', for fear of the loss of all-important jobs. This year, too, every purchase from an actual shop is a prince's kiss on the lips of a retail sector that's been comatose since April.

We shouldn't accept that false choice. You can have a slap-up Christmas with all the trimmings without buying into the myth of more, more, more. You can fill the hole inside not with fruit mince tarts exclusively but also with a little of that warm inner glow. Give something to somebody you know needs it, will like it, and won't break it in five minutes and cry. You don't have to spend ages agonising about whether they've got it already; money comes in all colours and suits every ensemble. Donate something to one of the causes you support (or one of the causes that oppose the things you're against) and oil the cogwheels of the community sector.

imageOur Community's Denis Moriarty

If you enjoy window-shopping, have a look over the catalogue of enthusiastic and capable community groups at, such as Urban Kittens, Lifeline Gippsland, the Blue Mountains Refugee Support Group, or my current favourite, the McAuley Small House Fund ( There are thousands of them, all sizes, all persuasions - the only thing they have in common is that they aren't fooling around. They help those who need help.

Give your aunt the happiness of a city kitten rather than a box of chocolates. She'll think you're a good person, and her arteries will thank you. Let's face it, Father Christmas is a really rotten role model.

Denis Moriarty is group managing director of, a social enterprise helping Australia's 600,000 not-for-profits.

What Our Community thinks about other big issues

This commentary also appears as part of a monthly column series that is published in 160 rural and regional titles across Australia, from daily newspapers such as the Bendigo Advertiser and the Illwawarra Mercury, to weekly publications such as the Goulburn Post, the Cootamundra Herald and the Jimboomba Times.

We're proud to take a stand on progressive issues, which we're able to do as a social enterprise that's not tied to the purse strings of any government or corporate organisation.

Here's a taste of some other recent commentaries as they've appeared in some of those publications, as well as our own.

November 2020: June's story among millions of reasons to support Giving Tuesday

October 2020: Politicians must act now to fix fundraising

September 2020: Who is holding up the groups that support community?

August 2020: How to build hope for a post-COVID world: join up

June 2020: If more debt means fewer suicides, let's spend big

May 2020: For country towns to survive, some assembly is required

April 2020: Virus shows us that social change can happen, now

March 2020: Why we need to appoint a no-bullshit council

February 2020: Aussie citizenship test - it's just not cricket

February 2020: The future is now, and it's hot, dry and undeniably real

January 2020: Why it's time to rethink our MP numbers

December 2019: It's time for less spending and more giving

November 2019: The Joy of Giving - on Tuesday

October 2019: Ignoring the data is an invitation to disaster

September 2019: What is the Catholic Church teaching us about love?

August 2019: The Uluru statement: Why it's time for the Commonwealth to show some heart

July 2019: Why homelessness is worth this gamble

June 2019: After election, life and advocacy must go on

May 2019: Pokies reliance is a risk to RSLs

April 2019: Kids are teaching us the power of protest

March 2019: Work-life balance pulls us in three directions

Feb 2019: Australia Day honours: Why being rewarded for doing your job is un-Australian

Jan 2019: Why 2019 gives me reason for optimism

December 2018: It's time to stop blaming pollies and start getting active

November 2018: Community connection is an antidote to loneliness

September 2018: Good culture is the key to good communities

August 2018: Drought sees groups suffering in a sunburnt country

July 2018: Thai cave rescue shows that community bonds are our best insurance