Members of charities see firsthand the distress and suffering caused to people by injustice. Often this suffering and distress is hidden in society and without the voice of charities speaking out, it can too easily be ignored. Charities have an obligation to shine a light on injustice and to work with those they serve to remove obstacles that create an unfair society.

Tackling social injustices like poverty is not only about providing services to alleviate the symptoms of social problems, but is also about advocating for changes to address the root causes.

While governments usually approve of the direct charitable works that charities do, they are often unhappy with the campaigns for justice that naturally flow from them. Ineffective governments put onerous restrictions on charities to try and curtail this work. More competent governments, who are concerned with the welfare of their citizens, realise that justice work by charities helps society run more smoothly and governments to be more effective. This is because such governments are more sensitive to inequities and can work with charities on fairer solutions.

More broadly, the ability of charities to speak out on injustices is important to hold governments to account and to maintain a vibrant and inclusive democracy. Stifling the voice and independence of charities ultimately damages the health of our democracy and civil society, erodes systems of accountability and undermines informed public debate.