In 2003, Oaktree had no office and no budget. Run by a small team of people, we met in living rooms, cafes and classrooms, to pursue an audacious goal: empowering young people to become powerful agents of change. Today, Oaktree is one of Australia’s largest youth-run development organisations, with more than 100 volunteers and over 250,000 supporters. Our mission: raising awareness on the importance of youth empowerment in tackling global injustice and inequality.
In 2006, we entered our first partnership with Sethani, an organisation in Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa, and our united effort funded the establishment of a community and education centre for 750 young people. Since then, Oaktree has partnered with other organisations in South Africa, as well as organisations in Ghana, Timor-Leste, Cambodia, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines.
We have always cherished our partnerships and Oaktree has been lucky enough to fund 12 projects across the Asia-Pacific since 2012. We are currently collaborating with local organisations overseas to build strong, kickass young leaders that motivate change. With a focus on Cambodia and Timor-Leste, our latest projects aim to develop a new generation of future champions that inspire their peers and influence their community.
In Cambodia, children face obstacles daily that inhibit their access to free basic education. Though their population is largely made up of young people under 30, there simply aren’t enough resources or opportunities to invest in their future. That’s why our most recent initiative, Kampuchean Young Leader’s Action (KYLA), is a program that focuses on youth empowerment and increased opportunities for young people in rural Cambodia. Our combined efforts have provided schoolchildren with pathways that equip them with the skills to become young leaders.
Oaktree is also working closely with partners in Timor-Leste to provide educational opportunities to young Timorese. Literacy levels in schoolchildren are low and youth unemployment levels are significantly high. We seek to break this cycle through our current initiative, Foin-sa’e Lidera Hamutuk (FoLiHa). This project aims to mould young Timorese into leaders that can enact change within their communities and help them break the cycle of poverty by tackling the injustices around them.
Oaktree recognises the unique role of youth in demanding change. Young people have the capacity to build and lead movements that kickstart important discourse around global injustice and inequality. We believe in the importance of investing in young leaders to become change-makers in their communities.
What is Live Below the Line?
Live Below the Line is a fundraising campaign that helps Australians take action on poverty and injustice. It is a challenge that sparks thousands of conversations about global poverty, inequality and Oaktree's work across Australia.
We started Live Below the Line in 2010 as a way of enabling Australians to engage with the issue of poverty and to take meaningful action on to address its root causes. Since then, over 64,000 Australians have raised more than $11.5 million for education, empowerment and campaigning initiatives that help fight injustice.
This year, thousands of participants will be putting
For us, Live Below the Line is all about creative cooking, rationing and caffeine deprivation: we know it’s just a glimpse into what life is like for people in poverty, not a real experience of it. But we know what we do has a real impact.
Oaktree's biggest resource is our people.
They are at the heart of every single action we take, every decision we make and are the champions of our values and beliefs. Without our volunteers, Oaktree and its impact simply wouldn’t exist. Whether it’s creating innovative strategies around youth participation in our region, executing campaigns that mobilise hundreds of young people around the country, forming partnerships that ensure the financial sustainability of our organisation, writing legal papers, managing teams or creating communication strategies that get sent to hundreds of thousands of people - all of this work is led and executed by our volunteers. And it’s not just the work our volunteers do but what they represent that is so important. Oaktree volunteers represent what young people are capable of. That our generation is not lazy or apathetic but in fact, passionate and hardworking, capable of making tough decisions, overcoming barriers and doing so with humility and energy. In 2019, we had over 100 volunteers across 6 states working in every area of our work doing anywhere between 10 to 30 hours a week.
We are committed to building a workplace and community that encourages, supports and values diversity. To find out more information head on over to our diversity page.