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Our Story

TEAR Australia is a non-denominational Christian organisation helping communities end poverty, challenge injustice and build a sustainable future. We work towards a more just and compassionate world where everyone has the opportunity to experience fullness of life.

In 1971 our organisation emerged with a prophetic imagination to inspire and enable Australian Christians to make a biblically-shaped response to poverty and injustice across the world. Today, TEAR Australia lives out that vision as a powerful catalyst for global transformation. In communities once burdened by poverty, the outcomes are seen in the flourishing of human potential - God’s life lived to the full.

Hagar Afghanistan
TEAR's partner Hagar works with vulnerable women and children in Afghanistan, helping to empower them through education and training.

Internationally, in places of great need

We work in long-term partnership with locally-based Christian agencies as they enable communities experiencing injustice to overcome poverty. We intentionally prioritise projects in some of the most challenging contexts around the world because we are called to be where the need is greatest. As we work alongside our partners, we witness God’s kingdom come as those facing poverty are set free to experience fullness of life.

Livelihoods and Food Security - Impact Report
Read the report

In Australia, with Christians

Across the country, we bring together the incredible responses of Christians responding to God’s call to bring an end to poverty. Our creative and courageous initiatives not only enable the work of our international partners, but also bring about God’s kingdom through changes in global systems of injustice and biblically-shaped lives here in Australia.

Tear Cricket High Five

To end poverty and address injustice, TEAR inspires and equips Australians to:

  • Give - to demonstrate Christ’s love in tangible action.
  • Pray - for a just and compassionate world.
  • Learn - with resources for a journey of faith and justice.
  • Advocate - for justice for the world’s poor.
  • Live differently - for a renewed world of justice and shalom.
See how you can get involved

What makes TEAR Australia unique?

TEAR Australia is more than just your average Christian charity in Australia. So what makes us stand out?

  • A Christian organisation: Our work is an expression of God’s love for all people, enabling them to experience fullness of life.
  • Partnership through locally-based Christian agencies: The best people to overcome the injustices that cause poverty are the Christians who live in the local context. Our projects are designed and managed by people motivated by their faith to enable their community to overcome poverty.
  • Where the need is greatest: Our projects are prioritised to work in areas most affected by poverty, including those facing conflict, with a long-term view towards sustainable change.
  • Community input into program design and leadership: Community-led development is the most effective way to overcome the root causes of poverty and create long-lasting change.
  • Engaging Australians: Poverty and injustice are global issues and Australians have a role to play. TEAR informs and equips Christians as they make creative and courageous responses towards God’s Kingdom.
Laos School Desk Girl

Our Achievements

Over more than 45 years, there are many, but here’s just a few to celebrate:

  • Since 1971, supporting over thousands of projects around the world, transforming the lives of millions of people.
  • Establishing the Jubilee 2000: Drop the Debt campaign in 1997, leading to the Australian government cancelling the unjust debts of impoverished countries after a petition with 370,000 signatures was presented to the Australian government.
  • Enjoying a rich mutual partnership with EFICOR in India, through whom TEAR’s first ever project was supported in 1971, providing relief for refugees from East Pakistan. We continue this partnership today through community development and emergency programs.
  • Maintaining a presence in Afghanistan over many years, through war and political upheaval, and continuing our commitment to work in partnership with Christian organisations in difficult places.
  • Developing the world’s first “Useful Gifts Catalogue” in 1993 and transforming the way Australians give gifts, enabling them to give where it is most needed.
  • Enabling ordinary Australian Christians to meet their elected Members of Parliament in events such as Voices for Justice (the first being in 2006), putting a face to the campaigns that promote Australian Aid.
  • TEAR’s work with the First Peoples of Australia has recognised the need for change in our own country to be part of the movement towards healing. TEAR’s first support for a project with Indigenous people was in 1978 in the Lake Tyers district of Victoria.
  • Equipping Australian Christians with the resources they need to develop a Biblically-shaped response to an unequal world.
  • Maintaining our commitment to a low-cost administration. In 1973 our governance committee agreed that administration costs not exceed 8%. Today, they remain low at 6% of annual income.
  • A registered charity with the The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, TEAR has been able to give tax-deductible receipts for donations over $2 since 1982.

We’re a Christian agency working for a just and compassionate world.

Mission and Values

TEAR Australia is a Christian development, relief and advocacy organisation responding to global poverty and injustice.

Our vision is for a just and compassionate world in which all people have the opportunity to achieve their God-given potential.

We will:

  • inform, challenge and empower Australian Christians to make biblically-shaped responses to poverty and injustice.
  • support community-based Christian groups, churches and mission organisations around the world as they work holistically with poor communities in development, relief and advocacy.
  • adhere to biblical teaching, and evaluate our work and attitudes in its light.
  • maintain a low-cost administration regime in order to maximize the funds allocated to project partners.

Our values:

As a faith-based Christian organisation, TEAR Australia seeks to adhere to biblical teaching and evaluate our work and attitudes in its light. Consequently, we have made a commitment to the values listed below. These values are embedded in every aspect of the work we do, in Australia and around the world.

  • The poor
  • The whole person
  • Justice
  • Prayer
  • Relationships
  • Participation
  • Excellence
  • Learn from others
  • Collaboration
  • Accountability

Our History

TEAR Australia was originally formed as an arm of the Australian Evangelical Alliance after its then President, Dr. Leon Morris, was inspired to establish a dedicated emergency relief fund. At an AEA Board meeting in July 1971, Dr Morris laid $10 from his own pocket on the Boardroom table, and so The Evangelical Alliance Relief Fund was born. Its original purpose was: “To meet two human needs: one for spiritual direction and assurance, the other for physical help—food, medicine, shelter and clothing… Practical aid in the context of God's love shown in the Lord Jesus.”

Under the AEA, TEAR grew fast. By 1977, the first staff members were appointed, and by 1979, an independent Board was formed. In 1998, and with the blessing of its founding body, TEAR Australia was incorporated as a legally independent agency. We no longer use the original acronym, but rather carry the byline “Transform, Empower, Advocate, Restore”.

We believe that God seeks to involve us in the work of the Kingdom. This involves working for justice and hope with and alongside people living with poverty, and advocating for just social and political structures that promote the dignity and security of all people.

Matthew Maury TEAR Australia National Director

Our Motivation

“TEAR Australia is motivated by its understanding of God, the words and actions of Jesus, and the mission that He passed on to the Church. We believe that God loves all people and offers them new life in Christ. The Bible shows us the values and characteristics of the Kingdom of God. The world falls far short of these standards. We believe that God seeks to involve us in the work of the Kingdom. This involves working for justice and hope with and alongside people living with poverty, and advocating for just social and political structures that promote the dignity and security of all people. We are aware of the interconnectedness of human society with the whole of creation and acknowledge our responsibility to respect and care for it.” – Matthew Maury, National Director

Our Beliefs

As a Christian organisation committed to making a Biblical response to the needs of the poor throughout the world, we accept and proclaim the historic truths of the Christian faith as described in the Micah Network Statement of Belief.

Our People

Then, as now, TEAR was formed primarily of voluntary workers. As Tony McCarthy, Chair of the TEAR Board from 1979—2004 writes: “TEAR is, and has always been, a peoples' organisation. It is a community of disciples committed to being practical in expressing their faith; passionate about their discipleship in seeking to express God's love and concern for the poor; and rigorous in exploring the scriptures to learn and to inform both belief and practice. It is an inclusive organisation.”

Volunteer Thankyou

Surrounding the paid staff positions and voluntary Board members is a vast network of Christians in Australia who contribute to the spiritual, directional, financial and educational work. Some of the more formal volunteer roles include TEAR Members, the International Projects Allocations Committee, which reviews international projects, TEAR Reps, TEAR Group members, and office volunteers. There are also the less formal roles of dedicated supporters who pray for TEAR's work, advocate publicly for structural change, give to TEAR's work, learn and teach others about God's work of justice and compassion, and choose to live according to principles of simple lifestyle.

Learn how you can get involved

TEAR's Constitution

View our constitution