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Our Story

About Oxfam Shop

When you buy our beautiful, unique, handmade products, you help us empower artisans and farmers from around the globe to lift themselves out of poverty. Shop with Oxfam at one of our 13 store locations around Australia, shop online or by purchasing Oxfam fair tea, coffee and chocolate products from a supermarket near you.
We are proud of our 50-year history as one of Australia’s most ethical retailers and one of the first social enterprises in Australia to operate for community, rather than profit. We will continue to empower people in poor communities to improve their lives, while bringing their beautiful products to life here in Australia.

Oxfam Shop – Why are we different?
Fast food and fast fashion are part of our culture. We have become used to shopping for the best discounts on mass-produced items.
However, here at Oxfam we know that this can put unfair market pressure on artisans and farmers from poor communities.
We believe all lives are equal and no-one should live in poverty. And so we join forces with people who share this belief, to empower poor communities to build better lives for themselves.

We want to make sure that we pay a fair price for the products we buy — to represent their real value.

Unlike many other retailers, we recognise the value of:

  • The skill and techniques that go into making a product
  • The culture and history that the product represents
  • The quality of the raw materials and production methods
  • The hard work and passion that go into making each product

We want to provide our customers with the highest quality, value for money product. Each item we sell is unique, beautiful, and practical and — best of all — every item is filled with purpose, which is to tackle poverty by improving the lives of artisans and farmers from poor communities.

You and Oxfam, tackling poverty together.

Click here or on the image below to hear firsthand from artisans in South Africa who share their inspiring stories of economic ownership.

Webinar celebrating Women's economic ownership - Oxfam Shop

Ways of working

Oxfam Australia Trading (OAT) is a Fair Trade Organisation and as such we adhere to the principles and policies of the two peak fair trade bodies – the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO) and the Fairtrade Labelling Organisation (FLO).

More information on our ways of working can be found here.

You and Oxfam, Tackling poverty together

At Oxfam we believe all lives are equal and no-one should live in poverty.
We join forces with people who share this belief, to empower communities to build better lives for themselves.
That’s why we are there on the ground, not only to save lives in times of crisis, but also to develop lasting solutions.
Our work spans wide because there are many causes of poverty. That’s why we’re also in front of decision-makers, governments and corporations, and speak out on the big issues.
Together we are tackling poverty by changing minds, systems and lives.
Find out more about Oxfam Australia and the many ways you can make a positive impact around the globe.

Our History

Oxfam Australia was born out of a merger between two leading international development agencies – Community Aid Abroad and the Australian Freedom from Hunger Campaign. Community Aid Abroad started in Melbourne in 1953, initially to help support health campaigns in India. Very rapidly, Community Aid Abroad grew and small local member based groups were popping up all over Australia.

In the 1960’s, a Community Aid Abroad Group based in Adelaide developed an innovative idea to source products produced by artisans overseas and market them for sale in Australia. By doing this, they would help provide a new and sustainable source of income for these skilled artisans as well as raising money for Community Aid Abroad’s development programs around the world.

In 1965 thanks to the commitment of the Community Aid Abroad supporters, the first Shop was opened in Gay’s Arcade in Adelaide. It was with real delight and anticipation that the first tea chest of products from India was opened on the lounge room floor of one of the group members in the suburbs of Adelaide.

From these humble beginnings, our commitment to supporting the livelihoods, skill and culture of artisans and farmers around the world, now spans more than 50 years.

Since that first tea chest of products landed in Australia, the Community Aid Abroad/Oxfam Shops have undergone many changes and have had to adapt to meet rapid changes in the retail industry, economic shocks, the launch of Fairtrade labels and systems as well as the growth of online shopping. However, through all of this our staff, volunteers and supporters have remained deeply committed to supporting 1000’s of artisans, farmers and their communities to build better lives for themselves – helping them to lift themselves out of poverty.

The original idea from the innovative, entrepreneurial and committed community group members in the early 1960’s has helped ensure that Oxfam Australia Trading is not only arguably Australia’s most unique retailer but also Australia’s oldest and largest standalone fair and ethical trader - and it is a legacy that we hope will continue for many years to come.

Check Oxfam Australia’s interactive historic timeline here.