• Finish Well

    Posted by Micah Challenge

    9 October, 2012

    Almost a month on from Voices for Justice, Courtney Gavin, Baptist World Aid's Production and Marketing Coordinator, reflects on finishing the race to halve extreme poverty by 2015. 

    If I could describe Voices for Justice 2012 in three words, they would be: amazing; encouraging; motivating.

    But perhaps I should start at the beginning.

    My advocacy began as a teenager. Enraged by global poverty and wanting to do something about it, I discovered Micah Challenge and quickly enlisted by signing the ‘Micah Call’. But when I realised this advocacy might actually mean having enough guts to talk to my local federal MP, I have to admit…I was kind of freaked out.

    So ‘X’ amount of years later, here I am at Voices for Justice for a second time (slowly overcoming my fears), this time as a lobby group leader…no pressure!! My lobby group met with one MP, one Senator and two advisors to a politician. We asked them to recommit to increasing aid to 0.5% GNI by 2016 (and a timetabled commitment of 0.7% by 2020), to ensure effective aid including 25% of the aid budget going towards health and sanitation, and finally to ‘Shine the Light’ on corporate tax evasion that robs developing countries of an estimated US$180 billion each year.

    I won’t name names, but overall it was an incredibly empowering and energising experience. Some gave us plenty of their time and others were extraordinarily rushed. Some listened intently, others had closed ears. Some asked real questions and wanted to know more, others told us about what the other party ought to be doing. What struck me was just how much impact Australian Christians – united as a part of the Micah Challenge – have had in the halls of parliament since its inception in 2000. All politicians we met knew who we were, knew why we were there and were deeply respectful even if they disagreed with our key asks.

    We held a media event on the lawns of Parliament House on Tuesday morning, where MPs and Senators were asked to play their part in finishing the race towards halving global poverty by 2015.

    We hoped that he might break into song, but MP Peter Garratt encourged Voices for Justice pariticipants about the effectiveness of their advocacy over the years.

    Peter Garrett MP told the crowd: "When you first came into the parliament and started lobbying you awakened us to a need that we knew was there, but which required greater focus, greater support and absolute tenacity and commitment to reach.”

    Peter Garrett’s and other politician’s speeches deeply encouraged me (I may have gotten a tad teary), and all the Micah Challenge supporters there. Of all the things you could call Micah Challenge supporters, it is that they are consistent. Year after year, supporters have been nagging their politicians about global poverty and injustice issues, and politicians are starting to really listen.

    But encouragement is just the start. More than ever, I feel a deep sense of urgency towards ending extreme poverty and meeting the Millennium Development Goals. We have two years and three months to go to the 2015 deadline. We've asked our nation’s leaders to Finish the Race, let’s join together to play our part too.

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