The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in Australia is celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2024.
ADRA International president Michael Kruger said the anniversary is testament to the dedication and hard work of ADRA staff members and partners, “who have worked relentlessly to provide healing and hope to people in need.”
“ADRA has made significant progress in its four decades of existence; nevertheless, more work remains,” Kruger said. “As we commemorate this milestone, we also look forward to the future and the opportunities to continue making a remarkable difference in underprivileged communities.
“ADRA is grateful for the support of donors, volunteers, partners, and the Seventh-day Adventist Church, which make it possible for us to positively impact the lives of the millions of people we serve,” he added. “We remain committed to our mission of serving humanity so that all people may live as God intended.”
ADRA has a long heritage of humanitarian work that dates back over a century. Before the Seventh-day Adventist Church established ADRA internationally in 1983, and ADRA Australia in 1984, it had already been organizing relief activities since 1918, when it sent aid to regions devastated by World War I.
The increase in disasters and famine prompted the Adventist Church to establish the Seventh-day Adventist Welfare Service (SAWS) in 1956, which was supplying relief shipments to 22 nations by 1958. Over the years, SAWS evolved from a welfare agency to playing a global role in long-term development initiatives; therefore, it changed its name to the Seventh-day Adventist World Service in 1973. As the need for international sustainable community development grew, SAWS was reorganized and renamed the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) in 1983 to better reflect its overall mission and activities.
ADRA achieved General Consultative Status with the United Nations in 1997, the highest degree of non-profit organization accreditation. This afforded ADRA the potential to serve even more marginalized populations around the world on a greater scale.
Today, ADRA is a global humanitarian agency with more than 5,000 employees and 7,000 volunteers serving communities in more than 120 countries regardless of ethnicity or political or religious affiliation. Besides supporting communities in long-term development initiatives in sustainable livelihoods, health, education, and emergency preparedness, ADRA responds to an average of two disasters per week. Although its country offices are spread across continents and thousands of kilometers apart, ADRA works as a unified body to provide innovative solutions to a world in need.
“As we reflect back on 40 years of ADRA in Australia, we are grateful for every supporter, volunteer, employee, board member, and, of course, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, that has been on this journey with us,” ADRA Australia CEO Denison Grellmann said. “We currently operate in 25 countries across the Pacific, South-East Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, impacting more than 600,000 lives. With the cost-of-living crisis and natural disasters in Australia, we are also stepping up our national program to meet the needs of vulnerable Australians. There are currently over 100 projects in Australia, and this is only possible thanks to our more than 2,000 volunteers, and partnerships with churches and ADRA op shops [thrift shops] across the country.
“ADRA is committed to continue being the hands and feet of Jesus and demonstrating justice, compassion, and love throughout its work for decades to come!” Grellmann said.