Cinnamon Network Australia, in partnership with, Together for the Illawarra, are delighted to announce the results of the Cinnamon Faith Action Audit for  the Illawarra region of New South Wales – the first of its kind in Australia.

The Illawarra CFAA survey, completed by over 100 faith-based organisations, revealed the local faith community contributes over $9.7 million in social impact value to the region each year and serves over 140,000 people – more than half the population of Wollongong and Shellharbour combined. 

In September 2020, Cinnamon Network Australia announced the launch of their first Faith Action Audit in the New South Wales region of Illawarra. This is a coastal region situated immediately south of Sydney and north of the South Coast region and encompasses the cities of Wollongong and Shellharbour.

The CFAA survey, conducted over a two month period, measured the collective social impact of churches across the Illawarra in order to accumulate a detailed report of the church’s influence, partnership, and resources for the benefit of those experiencing vulnerability.

The detailed report was launched on the 25th September 2020 at an event in Wollongong. It includes the following results:

  • 101 survey responses – over half of all faith-based organisations in the region;
  • 143 community service activities – addressing 15 of the greatest social needs 
  • 140,000 people served annually – more than half the population of Wollongong and Shellharbour combined 
  • $9.7 million in social impact value to the Illawarra community every year 

The journey towards this moment is over a year long. On the 1st August 2019, a group of leaders from across the Illawarra gathered for a consultative workshop from which a community engagement task force was birthed. This task force, named Together for the Illawarra, became acquainted with the Cinnamon Network. Through this partnership, the opportunity came about to conduct a Faith Action Audit in their region. This was proposed and given the green light at a consultation workshop last December. The actual survey was conducted between September and November 2020.

Said Paul Bartlett, Senior Leader of Lighthouse and Co-Lead of Community Engagement for Together for the Illawarra: “I have been involved with community engagement for 25 years. Cinnamon’s ability to coordinate the diversity of denominations and faiths behind a singular goal of measuring social action in the community is, to me, one of the most significant moves forward for the Church I’ve ever experienced. I’m so pleased that Together for the Illawarra has seized the opportunity to be part of this CFAA.” 

The Cinnamon Faith Action Audit or CFAA is a tool to enable churches to work together in order to measure their social and economic impact within a city or community. The evidence is published to create new opportunities for the church to partner with government, business, media and other sectors of civic society. 

Rev Tim Costello AO, Patron of Cinnamon Network Australia, offered his appreciation to all who made the initiative possible: “I believe the Cinnamon Faith Action Audit is one of the most powerful tools through which churches and faith-based organisations can positively impact their communities. I thank all those across the Illawarra who participated in this inaugural Australian CFAA and commend your outstanding work to love and serve others.”  

Cinnamon has supported churches in 94 local government areas around the world to undertake a Faith Action Audit giving evidences that the church contributes 9.9 billion GBP per annum to those communities.

The rationale behind the Faith Action Audit can be found in Cinnamon CEO and founder Matt Bird’s eBook “TRANSFORM”:

“The church communicates value through the stories it tells. In contrast civic society communicates value through the numbers and metrics it uses. Cinnamon Network International helps the church become bilingual by communicating its value in both numbers and stories. Developing the capability to communicate the value of what the church and faith based organisations do in numbers, transforms the way in which people perceive their contribution. Previously what seemed soft, fluffy and nice becomes concrete, specific and real.”

In conclusion, Nic Mackay,  National Director,  Cinnamon Network Australia comments: “It is our hope and prayer is that the impact of the Illawarra CFAA will go well beyond this report. That it will spark new conversations that lead to tangible benefits for those in need in Wollongong and Shellharbour. That it will inspire regions across the nation to engage in their own Cinnamon Faith Action Audits. That it will encourage people of faith to continue serving others, as we seek to be a beacon of hope for our communities and our country.”