Interview: War Child’s Head of Fundraising talks about coming to Australia with The Wombats

Tonight, UK Charity War Child – known for putting on incredible intimate gigs with artists like the Arctic Monkeys in the UK to support the great work they do – officially make their mark in Australia, putting on their first show as part of ARIA Week. Tonight, The Wombats will play the 500-capacity venue in Sydney, the Oxford Art Factory, with a good chunk of the tickets being made available through a $10 ballot, with proceeds going to the organisation whose “mission is to support and improve the protection and care of children and young people who live with a combination of insecurity, poverty and exclusion in some of the worst conflict-affected places.”

In advance of the show we caught up with Sheena Bourke, Head of Fundraising, to talk about the show, and their move into the Australian market.

Tell us a little about your role at War Child and how long you’ve been working with the charity for?

I’ve been supporting War Child Australia in the role of Head of Fundraising this year and I’ve been with War Child UK for 4 years. Children’s lives are being meaningfully and permanently improved as a result of the work that War Child are doing, and I’m privileged to work alongside some of the most dedicated and passionate people in the sector.

We’ve been working closely with the Australian music industry this year and are so overwhelmed by the positive response to support our efforts in raising vital funds and awareness for children affected by conflict.

How would you best sum up what War Child is and the work it does internationally?

Every day millions of children are left traumatised by the effects of war. As well as the physical scars, many children will also be living with the mental scars of what they’ve experienced. As well as food, shelter and water, these children desperately need trauma counselling to help rebuild their lives.

War Child is the only organisation that exists to solely support children affected by conflict. With over 50% of those affected by war under the age of 18, War Child’s work is now more important than ever. We provide protection, education and mental health support, ensuring we can equip them with the tools they need to regain hope for a brighter future. Whether it’s helping Syrian children access education, rehabilitating former child soldiers in the Central African Republic or seeking justice for young people detained in Afghanistan, War Child works tirelessly to reach the most vulnerable children in some of the most dangerous places in the world.

What brought on the decision to bring the War Child live event series into Australia?

War Child are doing the most incredible work around the world and will have reached over 180,000 children by the end of the year. But we desperately need to reach more. We want to raise awareness on the effects of conflict around the world, as we vitally need Australian support to reach more children living through the horrors of war. It’s an enormous issue that we can only start to tackle by joining global forces.

Music is ingrained into the values of our organisation, and we’ve been so fortunate to have worked with some of the best artists in the world; from Coldplay, Sam Smith, Mumford and Sons, Florence and the Machine, to name a few. We love the music coming out of Australia and we’re keen to grow our roots here and work closely with incredible local artists!

War Child has been putting on intimate shows with big bands alongside the BRIT Awards since 2009, and it’s always an unforgettable experience. We love being able to create that one-off opportunity for music fans to walk away feeling like they’ve been a part of something really special, whilst being able to support an important cause. This is just the start.

Can you explain a little bit about how the event works as a fundraiser?

The concept is all about getting the biggest artists in to the smallest venues. In doing this we create a lot of excitement. We use a prize draw mechanism where fans can donate $10 to be in with a chance of winning 2 tickets to see their favourite artist in an incredibly special intimate venue, whilst being able to give back to a cause they care about at the same time. If they don’t win, they are consoled by the thought they have donated to a great cause!

The Wombats and E^ST very generously donate their talent and time, and our amazing partners; Warner, Secret Sounds, Comes with Fries, ARIA Week, pull in a lot of favours to ensure we raise as much money as possible for children affected by conflict.

The Wombats are playing your first event in Australia tonight, what has the response been like for the show? (Can you reveal anything about how much money you expect to raise for War Child from the show?)

We’ve had the most amazing welcome from The Wombats fans. Given that this will be their smallest gig in Australia to date, there’s been a lot of buzz about it!

Sadly we can’t fit everyone into the show, but the response to not winning tickets have been so positive too! I saw a post on the Facebook event last week that said, ‘Oh well I’ll have that warm feeling that I gave to charity while I listen to the Wombats at home!

What are War Child’s future plans in Australia?

We want to continue to raise awareness of the effects of conflict on children, producing an exciting calendar of events and finding creative ways to tell stories of the impact that Australians are having on the children’s lives that we’re supporting.

We’ve already raised a significant amount from The Wombats show that will make a huge impact in our ability to deliver our life-changing work. Supporting the emotional needs of children affected by conflict needs to be a priority, and we can’t thank everyone enough for getting behind us! We’ve got a lot of exciting plans for next year, so watch this space!

The Wombats play the Oxford Art Factory in Sydney tonight. For more details about War Child Australia, head to their Official Website.

Larry Heath

Founding Editor and Publisher of the AU review. Currently based in Toronto, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter @larry_heath or on Instagram @larryheath.

Tags: ,