Our story

The Assisi story

The Assisi story began in 1974 when Sister Stella, an Indian Catholic nun, arrived in Victoria, Australia to learn dairy farming. Concerned about food security and nutrition in her home community in India, Sister Stella was committed to returning to India and applying her new dairy farming skills to improve the lives of women and children in her community.

She returned to India on a cargo ship with 30 Friesian cows and three bulls and, retaining five cows and one bull, she established Assisi Farm & Training Centre in the State of Tamil Nadu. At the Centre, Sister Stella provided agricultural training to selected community members, who were encouraged to on-train others in their communities.

The idea of a community-based model for development started to take shape. Assisi Aid Projects was formed in 1985 in Bendigo, Victoria, Australia to provide funding and strategic planning to help support the project.

Assisi today

From humble beginnings and one person’s vision, Assisi has now grown into an expanding development and humanitarian aid organisation, focusing on the empowerment of women to bring about positive changes to their own lives, and the lives of their children and the communities in which they live. Assisi is currently working in communities in Cambodia and India.

In India, Assisi has historically supported thousands of rural women to not only access income and the skills to improve family life, but also built their confidence and sense of entitlement. In Cambodia, Assisi has successfully transferred the self-help group model from our work in India, through the establishment of women-led savings clubs in 2010, many of which continue today.

While development initiatives in Cambodia and India are complex and present multiple challenges and opportunities, the prevailing issue of gender inequality and hierarchies of power, underscores human relations and poverty. This defines our new approach and our 2017-2020 Strategy.

The Assisi Strategy works to strengthens people’s own capacity to establish, operate and manage their own development initiatives. Assisi aim to address the root causes of poverty – embedded in the systems and structures of power and politics – through a focus on fostering equal gender relations and by working with women and men.

Mission, Vision and Values

Our Vision

A world in which all people have equal opportunity to determine and achieve their economic and social potential.

Our Mission

Assisi supports women as agents for economic and social resilience in their communities through strengthening women’s skills, knowledge and confidence; supporting women’s collectives; and addressing systemic barriers to gender equality.

Our Values

Assisi is a signatory to the Australia Council for International Development (ACFID) Code of Conduct. Our values are aligned and we are committed to:

  • Sustainable, fair and equitable solutions that address the root causes and symptoms of gender inequality, poverty and disadvantage;
  • Accountability and transparency to all our stakeholders for our performance and integrity;
  • Building strong collaborative relationships, based on understanding and mutual trust, with the communities we work with;
  • Striving to continuously learn, innovate and improve our work;
  • Honesty and integrity in everything we do;
  • Respecting, protecting and promoting all internationally recognised human rights;
  • Environmental sustainability in all our programs; and
  • Strengthening civil society both in Australia and in the countries we work.

Our Strategic Plan

The Assisi Strategy 2017 – 2020 aims to strengthen the capacity of women to establish, operate and manage their own development initiatives. The Strategy targets the root causes of gender inequality – embedded in the systems and structures of power and politics – through a focus on fostering equal gender relations and by working with women and men, girls and boys.

Assisi recognises the interrelated dimensions of gender inequity and seeks to challenge these through four spheres of influence:

  1. Tradition, culture and gender norms shape the social rules and expectations of both women and men and have a profound impact on progress towards equality. Discriminatory gender norms act as barriers to women and girls securing their fundamental rights, including their right to education, protection, health, expression and participation.
  2. Policy and governance can result in widespread gender inequality when laws fail to equally protect and promote the rights of women and girls, fail to encourage women and girls to participate in public life, do not allocate a fair share of resources, and fail to equitably include their perspectives in policy decision-making processes.
  3. Access to markets and income significantly impacts women’s ability to access, and control, the resources they need for themselves and their families. Barriers to women’s labour force participation and access to income are numerous, ranging from the time burden associated with child-rearing and other domestic tasks, low education levels and existing wage gaps between males and females.
  4. Personal voice and agency are critical to achieving gender equality. Supporting the active, free and meaningful participation of women and girls in all spheres of life (social, political and economic) ensures their ability to define their own life-choices and pursue their own goals.


Assisi Strategic Plan 2017-20

Download the 2017-2020 Assisi Strategy here.

Annual Reports

To download the 2016/17 Annual Report please click here.

To download the 2015/16 Annual Report please click here.

To download the 2014/15 Annual Report please click here.

To download the 2013/15 Annual Report please click here.