A short summary of our long history

 More than 50 years of World Vision Australia  

World Vision Australia was founded in 1966. Since then we've helped millions of vulnerable children and their families. Here, we look back on some of the big moments in our journey so far – made possible by our generous supporters.


In 1947, American missionary Dr Robert Pierce travelled to China and Korea, where he met people who regularly went without basics like food, clothing, shelter and medicine.

Back in the United States, he started fundraising for his work supporting children in Asia. The strength of the public response was such that, in September 1950, World Vision was founded, headed by Pierce. 


World Vision Australia opened in August 1966, forming part of the World Vision International Partnership (which today operates in more than 90 countries). 

During this decade we expanded operations to assist refugees in Indochina, as well as people affected by disasters in Bangladesh and in several African nations. 


Donations from Australians grew, and we became a dominant presence in the nation's non-government organisation community. 

Child sponsorship shifted focus from individual children to community development – for the benefit of all children. 

Relief efforts expanded to Laos and war-torn Cambodia. We came to the aid of orphans and Vietnamese refugees stranded at sea. 


The 1980s saw the discovery of AIDS, and the epic Ethiopian famineDisaster response and long-term development became increasingly important, and new international offices broadened our global reach and capacity. 

As our development approach became more collaborative, communities increasingly worked with us to improve their lives and take control of their futures. 


Our international reach grew. A dedicated global rapid response team was set up for emergencies.

In Australia, we led the World Vision partnership in adopting comprehensive child protection policies. We focused our advocacy on ending child exploitation and banning the use of landmines. 

Africa became a greater focus for our work and we provided food, medical care and resettlement help to survivors of the Rwandan genocide. We also worked on long-term peacebuilding and reconciliation between ethnic groups. 


In 2004, the Boxing Day tsunami devastated many nations. With overwhelming support, we mounted a response across five countries simultaneously, providing life-saving aid before working on long-term development and rebuilding. 

We also became more active in working with governments and businesses on issues such as child labour and the involvement of children in armed conflicts.


Already this decade has necessitated many emergency responses, including for the Syria crisis, the East Africa hunger crisis and the Indonesia earthquake and tsunami, among others.  

We’ve further refined our advocacy work, concentrating on child rights and influencing government policy. We’ve also continued to improve our community development model, with the ultimate goal of building the self-sufficiency of communities. 

Looking forward

Today we’re Australia’s largest non-government organisation. Alongside our partners and supporters and the communities we serve, we’re continuing to work hard to eliminate poverty and its causes.