Conversations in Development

Talking about foreign aid, development and social change.

Conversations in Development is a series of open and honest conversations about issues in the aid and development sector with leading professionals in the field. Each episode features an expert guest in conversation with Peter Mason, the CEO of Cufa, and journalist Olivia Rosenman. The podcast is brought to you by Cufa, an international development agency creating infinite value alleviating poverty across the Asia Pacific . Produced by Olivia Rosenman with music by Studio Garry.

Volunteer tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry that is increasingly run by for-profit organisations sending millions of volunteers to poor communities around the world. The industry is rarely researched and empirical data is scarce, so what are we missing? We speak with Stephen Wearing about how the industry is changing, how it could be regulated and how the media plays a role in popular perceptions of volunteer tourists.

Stephen Wearing is a conjoint professor at the University of Newcastle whose research focuses on sustainable tourism and the importance of community based approaches in the tourism and volunteering sector. For 22 years he ran VOICE Volunteers in Community Engagement (previously known as Youth Challenge Australia), a not-for-profit organisation sending volunteers on grassroots, community-identified development projects since 1992.


This podcast is brought to you by Cufa, an international development agency alleviating poverty across the Asia Pacific .

Volunteer tourism tourism volunteer tourists University of Newcastle cufa Conversations in development foreign aid development international development microfinance volunteering volunteer World Tourism Day giveback business sustainable travel


Releasing 27 September, this episode invites Stephen Wearing, an academic and expert in the field, to explore the multi-billion dollar industry of volunteer tourism. With the hosts, Stephen explores what the industry is missing, how it is changing and how it could be regulated.

Make sure you've subscribed to Conversations in Development to catch all our open and honest conversations with industry experts about issues in foreign aid and the development sector.

volunteer tourism tourism volunteer tourists University of Newcastle Cufa Conversations in Development foreign aid development international development volunteering volunteer World Tourism Day


Microfinance is a market-driven approach to development, alleviating poverty through the creation of local economies and sustainable livelihoods. But it’s also associated with negative perceptions such as profiting off poverty and creating cycles of debt. We spoke with Mahir Momand, a microfinance expert who pioneered the field in Afghanistan, about how his work reduced poverty, addressed gender inequality and ultimately threatened the basis of the Taliban insurgency.

Mahir Momand is a microfinance expert and the CEO of Thrive Refugee Enterprise, an organisation that provides micro-finance and business support to refugees and asylum seekers in Australia. Previously, Mahir served as CEO of the National Association of Credit Unions in Afghanistan, worked for the World Bank, UNHCR and was Financial Adviser to the Federal Ministry of Labour in Afghanistan. The microfinance programs run by Mahir have helped establish a total of 165,000 small and medium business enterprises in Afghanistan that provided a livelihood for nearly 1 million people.


This podcast is brought to you by Cufa, an international development agency alleviating poverty across the Asia Pacific .

Refugee Refugee Enterprise Thrive Refugee Enterprise Credit Unions Afghanistan World Bank microfinance Taliban UNHCR Refugees cufa Conversations in development development international development foreign aid inspiration education endpoverty poverty NGO NPO microfinancing entrepreneur nonprofit global development UN


Releasing 13 August, this episode invites Mahir Momand, CEO of Thrive Refugee Enterprise, to teach us about a market-driven approach to development - microfinance. He explores both the positive and negative approaches and tells us how he reduced poverty, addressed gender inequality and ultimately threatened the basis of the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan.

Make sure you've subscribed to Conversations in Development to catch all our open and honest conversations with industry experts about issues in foreign aid and the development sector.

Cufa Conversations in Development Refugee microfinance microfinancing Refugee Enterprise Thrive Refugee Enterprise Credit Unions Afghanistan World Bank Taliban UNHCR development international development foreign aid Refugees UN


168 million children are in child labour around the world, with almost half engaged in hazardous work. The forces driving child labour are complex and wide-ranging, from criminal intent, to economic necessity, to cultural norms. So how realistic is SDG Target 8.7 that aims to end child labour in all its forms by 2025? We speak with international lawyer Brynn O’Brien about the difficulties involved with regulating child labour and how it fits into structural problems in the global economic system.

Brynn O’Brien is an international lawyer and researcher in the area of business and human rights. She started her career as a corporate lawyer and then went on to practise human rights law, representing refugees in Australia’s detention centres and people who had suffered human trafficking and severe exploitation in Australia. Now as Executive Director of the Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility, she holds Australia’s largest companies to account for their impacts on people and the environment.


This podcast is brought to you by Cufa, an international development agency alleviating poverty across the Asia Pacific .

Conversations in development cufa foreign aid development microfinance international development child labour child labor Australasian Centre for Corporate Responsibility Corporate Responsibility sweatshops law UN sustainable children poverty