Philippine anti-poverty organisation, Gawad Kalinga’s third annual Global Summit will be held at Sydney University from October 15-16. Like the first two Summits held in Boston, USA and Singapore, delegates from all over the world are expected to attend the Summit to hear about Gawad Kalinga’s work in the Philippines, Cambodia, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. It will also be a chance for Australians and others who have not heard of GK to learn about it and the opportunities that it affords people to engage in partnership with communities to support them in overcoming poverty and disadvantage.

Chair of GK Australia, Andrew Chalk, believes that the Philippines has come up with a model of community development that can be adapted to the challenges facing many communities in Australia and other countries in the region.

The Philippines has developed something that can possibly help to change what has been one of Australia’s greatest issues: “The path by which Aboriginal people rebuild confidence and opportunity to enjoy an equal role in the wider Australian society, including its social and economic life, on terms that respect their own values and unique culture.”

Mr Chalk has worked with Aboriginal communities for over twenty years in the areas of land rights and native title. While he acknowledged the importance of the land that has been handed back to Aboriginal communities, he also acknowledges that land ownership of itself has not always translated to beneficial economic and social outcomes. He hopes that GK, with its emphasis on shared relationships and care as the basis for building confidence and dignity, will be a way of engaging some communities, and particularly the men in those communities, to find their place in Australian society.  He added, “GK offers an approach to restore the confidence and capability of all marginalised peoples, Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike.”

On a recent visit to Sydney, GK Director, Issa Cuevas-Santos pointed out that Australia is a big part of GK’s history. It was here that GK’s founder, Tito Tony Meloto first came to understand that he needed to return to the Philippines in order to engage with the poor. That prayer in itself, while important, was not enough. He needed to do something practical.

Ms Cuevas-Santos said having the Summit in Australia also made sense because, “We are starting a new GK organisation here and the Summit will be a way of introducing GK to the Australian people. Australia is also the base for the region and we want to find ways to engage like-minded people and offer GK’s experience to Indigenous and other suffering communities. We also want to honour the Global GK community and lay down the foundations for GK’s next seven years”.

Ms Cuevas-Santos said, that the Summit was, “really an invitation to journey with us. We want to share where we have been and engage more people to discover how we can rise from poverty. Even though GK has been successful to a point, we know that the issue [poverty] is big and we know that no one group can do it by themselves. We must get more people to journey with us and that is just what the Summit is about.”

For further information please visit the GK Global Summit 2011 page.