Humanitarianism at home

Exploring practitioners’ perspectives on the relevance of humanitarianism in Australia


  • Daniel McAvoy Deakin University, Australia
  • Annalise Ingram Deakin University, Australia
  • Luke Bearup Deakin University, Australia



humanitarians, Australia, humanitarian action, humanitarian definition, australian bushfires


Australia has faced various unprecedented challenges in recent years: the extended bushfire season of 2019–20, wide-spread and increasingly severe storms and flooding, and the grave health and socio-economic impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Such events have prompted greater awareness of our shared vulnerability to disasters. They have also exacerbated food insecurity, homelessness, poverty, family violence, and increased the vulnerability of refugees and people seeking asylum in Australia. Where disasters and similar issues are identified in low-income countries, they are typically framed in terms of humanitarian need and may even be the subject of international humanitarian action. Why is it then, that the language and practices of humanitarianism are not ordinarily applied in Australian settings? What indeed is humanitarianism when it is not international? What, if anything, do international experiences of humanitarianism have to offer in Australian contexts? This paper describes a research program that has been prompted by these questions and shares some preliminary findings concerning the perspectives of Australian practitioners on the relevance of humanitarian values, knowledge, and practices in Australia.


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Author Biographies

  • Daniel McAvoy, Deakin University, Australia

    Daniel lectures at Deakin University in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. He teaches a range of core and elective units within the Masters of Humanitarian Assistance, including Applied Humanitarian Assistance and Humanitarian Settlement Daniel is also engaged in research on policy and practices associated with state-building interventions, transnational policing, and humanitarian interventions, with a focus on Asia-Pacific (Indonesia and Solomon Islands).

    Daniel has over 20 years’ experience working and researching in humanitarian aid and international development. In addition to 8 years’ involvement with the Australian Aid Programme (Solomon Islands, Iraq, Afghanistan and Middle East Programmes), he has worked with Care International (Iraq, Kosovo, and Aceh), and consulted for UNICEF (Solomon Islands), UNDP (Uganda) and OXFAM GB (UK and India).

    Daniel joined Deakin University in early 2015 after 6 years lecturing at the School of International Development at the University of East Anglia in the UK. In this role he taught a range of undergraduate courses (Politics and International Development; War, Humanitarian Crises and Aid) and convened a Masters module entitled Conflict Peace and Security. He holds a MA (Anthropology of Conflict, Violence and Conciliation) from the University of Sussex​, and a BSc (Geography) and MA (Applied Anthropology and Participatory Development) from the Australian National University.

  • Annalise Ingram, Deakin University, Australia

    Annalise Ingram is a humanitarian practitioner and writer currently working with UN OCHA Myanmar as an Accountability to Affected Populations and Community Engagement Specialist. Prior to this she worked with Australian Red Cross in Australia’s Northern Territory, most recently as Team Leader for Emergency Services. She has also worked in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia in communications and development and holds degrees in media, international studies and Indonesian language.

  • Luke Bearup, Deakin University, Australia

    Dr Luke Bearup is a Research Fellow at the CHL, Honourary Lecturer at the School of Sociology, ANU, and practitioner in humanitarian assistance and development. Luke’s research aims to apply the tools of sociology to understanding local perspectives on social issues and international aid, and involve communities in the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and interventions. Luke is working for the WFP as a Senior Analyst, deployed by RedR and Australia Assists to research humanitarian assistance and social cohesion in Amman, Jordan.


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How to Cite

“Humanitarianism at home: Exploring practitioners’ perspectives on the relevance of humanitarianism in Australia” (2022) The Humanitarian Leader, p. Working Paper 022, Feb 2022. doi:10.21153/thl2022art1527.