27 September 2018
MEDIA RELEASE – World Tourism Day: Cufa Explores Volunteer Tourism in Podcast

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 27th September 2018

Cufa has today released a new episode in their podcast series, Conversations in Development, hosted by Cufa’s CEO Dr Peter Mason and journalist Olivia Rosenman.

Focusing on volunteer tourism, the episode features special guest Stephen Wearing. Stephen is a professor at the University of Newcastle and University of Technology Sydney. His research focuses on sustainable tourism and the importance of community-based approaches in the tourism and volunteering sector. He also spent 22 years running VOICE, a not-for-profit organisation that sent volunteers on grassroots, community-identified development projects.

World Tourism Day, 27 September, celebrates tourism and raises awareness for the role that it provides within the international community. It is one of the fastest growing and most important economic sectors in the world.

This Conversations in Development episode explores volunteer tourism, a multi-billion dollar industry in which travellers participate in voluntary work. Stephen discusses what the industry is missing while using his expert insight to outline how the industry is changing. Additionally, he explores in what way it could be better regulated and the role that the media plays in popular perceptions of volunteer tourist destinations.

Cufa’s CEO, Dr Peter Mason commented, “Volunteer tourism is an excellent initiative if it is completed in a sustainable and respectful manner. The industry has, unfortunately, developed a bad reputation for institutions such as orphanages. Volunteer trips should be focused on making enduring skill based contributions that benefit communities in the long-term.”

Conversations in Development is available to download and stream with Apple Podcasts or your favourite podcast platform.

Visit the podcast website:

Conversations in Development: RSS feed

Dr. Peter Mason is the CEO of international development agency Cufa. Cufa’s programs focus on economic development of underserved and disadvantaged communities across the Asia Pacific region. With multiple approaches including education, employment, enterprise, and financial institution development, Cufa’s projects are implemented by local Cufa offices and country staff who work with local communities, organisations, and government. Peter has worked in Cambodia, Timor Leste, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Fiji, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Samoa, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, and the Federated States of Micronesia. His research interests include examining the way in which the social and the economic interact within the development environment and he has recently published a chapter, Credit Unions, in The Routledge Companion to Alternative Organization.

Olivia Rosenman is the executive producer of Fourth Estate, a weekly media affairs show radio broadcast in Sydney on 2SER. She has previously worked as a reporter for news agencies in both Sydney and Asia. As an AusAID Youth Ambassador for Development, Olivia ran the communications department of a disability services organization in Nanning, China. Olivia holds a Master of Journalism from the University of Hong Kong and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Sydney.


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For all media enquiries, interview and image requests, please contact:

Carolina Flores

Marketing and Communications Manager
1300 490 467


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19 September 2018
Volunteer Tourism: Provocative New Podcast Episode

Volunteer Tourism Stephen WearingCufa’s podcast, Conversations in Development, will be releasing a new episode to mark World Tourism Day on Thursday 27 September. A new guest will be welcomed to discuss volunteer tourism with the hosts. The episode will reveal the complexities of volunteer tourism. This follows on from episodes on microfinance, child labour and other important development topics.

Volunteer tourism is a form of tourism in which travellers participate in voluntary work, typically for a charity. This particular form can be a very divisive topic. It can be extremely beneficial for many involved. Adversely, however, there are often negative implications for unskilled tourists working in developing countries.

Stephen Wearing joins the episode as an expert guest in the field. He is a conjoint professor at the University of Newcastle and an associate professor at the University of Technology Sydney. His research focuses on sustainable tourism and the importance of community-based approaches in the tourism and volunteering sector. Stephen also ran VOICE Volunteers in Community Engagement for 22 years. This was a not-for-profit organisation that sent volunteers on grassroots, community-identified development projects.

The episode explores the multi-billion dollar industry of volunteer tourism. Podcast hosts, Dr Peter Mason and Olivia Rosenman, join with Stephen discussing what we are missing in an industry that is rarely researched and empirical data is scarce. Stephen uses his expert insight to describe how the industry is changing. Additionally, he explores how it could be regulated and how the media plays a role in popular perceptions of volunteer tourists.

Get up to date by listening to the previous episodes. Simply search “Conversation in Development” into Apple Podcasts or your favourite podcast streaming service. Episode 5 on volunteer tourism streaming from World Tourism Day, Thursday 27 September 2018.


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19 September 2018
Colette McInerney: Cufa’s Newest Board Member

Colette McInerneyWe are delighted to announce that Colette McInerney has joined the Cufa Board of Directors.

Colette brings over 20 years of experience in leading NGO’s both in Australia and internationally. With this, she brings a unique synthesis of effective and respectful leadership skills and practical experience. These have been gained through various roles such as the Laos-based Country Director for a global NGO. She also spent time as the CEO of an Indigenous financial inclusion foundation and as a strategic public-private partnership manager.

With an extensive knowledge in microfinance and financial inclusion, Colette brings a great deal of expertise in female-centred economic development programs. In addition, she is a skilled fundraiser and strategic stakeholder management advisor. With considerable experience leading NGO’s, Colette has also delivered best practice programs that are responsive to community needs, underpinned by rigorous governance and management standards. 

Moreover, Colette has a unique capacity to work adeptly across diverse and often complex environments with ease and confidence. This only further assists in her development of stakeholder relationship management.

As Cufa runs multiple female-focused programs aiming to empower women across the Asia-Pacific, we are excited for the invaluable insight of Colette McInerney on our board!

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30 August 2018
MEDIA RELEASE – Cufa Makes Extensive Social Return on Investment, Report Finds

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 30th August 2018                                                       


Cufa announced today the release of their Social Return on Investment (SROI) report, quantifying how much social value is created as a ratio of investment into the programs.

For every $1 invested into Cufa’s programs, $12.33 of social value is created. Overall, $30.4 million of value was created in the form of education, employment, enterprises and economic institutions. The number has more than tripled since the last report in 2014, as a result of the expansion in the scope and scale of Cufa’s development programs.

The report provides a review of all of Cufa’s programs while measuring the sustainable development Cufa provides within communities. It is Cufa’s aim to not supply financial handouts, but instil long-term economic development that alleviates poverty for current and future generations.

Some of the outstanding results included:

  • Created over $13.5 million of social value in the Bougainville Youth Initiative
  • Returned $28 of social value for every $1 invested in the Village Entrepreneur program
  • Increased total community savings in Timor-Leste credit unions to $266,456
  • Provided financial access in rural Cambodia with 21 credit unions formed
  • Encouraged female empowerment with multiple women’s focused self-help groups in Myanmar

Cufa’s Chief Executive Officer, Dr Peter Mason commented, “Social return on investment reporting provides an opportunity to measure social and environmental value not currently reflected in conventional financial reports. Cufa has conducted the SROI report to measure the success of our programs across the Asia-Pacific. The results of the report affirm Cufa’s commitment to implementing sustainable development throughout disadvantaged communities.”



– ENDS –


For all media enquiries, interview and image requests, please contact:

Carolina Flores

Marketing and Communications Manager
1300 490 467


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20 August 2018
British Embassy Funded a Project to Empower Cambodian Women

British Embassy Phnom Penh Empower Cambodian WomenCufa is extremely excited to begin a new project in rural Cambodia with the aim of empowering women. The project will be funded by the British Embassy in Phnom Penh with the specific focus of strengthening Cambodian women’s voices and encouraging participation within communities.

The project covers four key topic areas:

  • Benefits of community engagement
  • Confidence Building
  • Public Speaking
  • Women’s Networking Forums

The community relationships that Cufa has formed through our Credit Union Development program and extensive experience working in rural Cambodia will assist us in the project’s implementation. It will be delivered across 21 villages in four provinces and measure the participation rates of women in organisations such as credit unions and village committees. The results will see a higher participation rate and deeper engagement for women within communities. This will enable women to gain skills in areas such as public speaking and create a platform for networking, both within and across rural communities.

We will keep you updated with the project as it unfolds!

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20 August 2018
Timor-Leste Credit Unions: Some Amazing News

Cufa has been developing Timor-Leste credit unions since 2009. The project covers three districts with 13 credit unions. Like many of our other Credit Union Development projects, these areas were identified because they had low levels of community savings, high levels of debt and limited access to formal financial services. Our project in Timor-Leste fills this economic and educational gap, teaching people how to save and its importance while linking them to a community-owned bank.


Timor-Leste Credit Unions: Some Amazing News


The credit unions we have developed in Timor-Leste are extremely successful and hence, they have provided us with some amazing updates.

The area of Remexio, near the capital Dili, has received great news. Three of the credit unions are preparing to register with the government at the culmination of their project term. This is possible as the profits they have gained are enough to sustain them without Cufa’s assistance. Another credit union, also in Remexio, has recently reinvested their profits into building a new office for their members use. Additionally, some of the credit unions have reported more members showing interest and gaining knowledge in successful agriculture businesses. This type of self-determination is encouraged and extremely beneficial for the local community.

A recent report done by Cufa has also indicated that the Timor-Leste credit unions are undergoing a high level of financial success. The report determined:

  • For every $1 invested in the project, over $12 of social return is created
  • 539 new credit union members over the past 1.75 years
  • $266,456 in total community savings

Timor-Leste credit unions continue to impress, continuously motivating each other towards success with study visits and coaching groups. They provide a multitude of opportunities for local people. These lie in educating communities about financial literacy and providing safe and affordable banking access. In doing this they are able to empower women and people with disabilities, benefiting communities across Timor-Leste.

We look forward to hearing more great news from our projects there!

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