Micah Challenge Australia Blog

 

The Micah Challenge blog is a space for discussion and debate about the issues of global poverty, faith, advocacy and justice and the Millennium Development Goals. This blog aims to provoke thought and challenge you to learn more about the issues discussed. We welcome your comments.

Micah Challenge is a global campaign of Christians speaking out against poverty and injustice. Click here to visit the Micah Challenge website.

  • Australia's overseas aid: reducing poverty or detaining asylum-seekers?

    Posted by Ben

    11 April, 2013

    In a deeply cynical move just before Christmas last year, the Government diverted $375 million from overseas aid to help meet the rising costs of detaining, processing, and supporting onshore asylum-seekers. This diversion of such a large amount of money (7% of the total aid budget) away from the core business of Australia's aid program – helping poor people move out of poverty – has already had an impact. Our contribution to the life-saving work of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria was cut by $10 million. Programs to help vulnerable communities to adapt to climate change in Vanuatu, Tonga, Indonesia and the Philippines have been axed. Water, sanitation and hygiene programs, maternal and child health, education and livelihood programs have all been delayed or "deferred". Every region and every area of Australia's aid program handed over part of its budget to help plug the Immigration Department's budget hole. Oh, almost every country. Papua New Guinea and Nauru – who are hosting asylum-seeker detention camps… read more

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  • Why we disagree with the Government

    Posted by Ben

    21 December, 2012

    So many Micah Challenge supporters are telling the Government, "Don't Divert Aid", that they are already receiving standardised email replies from some politicians or being argued with by the staff who answer the phones in the politician's office. I think that's a sign that the campaign is getting through. So, following on from my previous post, I wanted to put in one place our reasons for disagreeing with the Government's plan to divert $375 million of the aid budget towards domestic refugee costs. Sorry that this post is a little long and slightly policy wonkish. For those who want the summary version, we oppose the Government's plan and disagree with its reasons because the planned diversion of aid: 1. is a massive, sudden and poorly-considered shift in the aid program's priorities. 2. represents a cut to poverty reduction programs overseas to meet a domestic expense. 3. makes our aid program less predictable, and thus less effective. 4. is unnecessary – Australia has the resources and responsibility both to care for… read more

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  • Overseas aid and refugees in Australia

    Posted by Ben

    19 December, 2012

    The leaked report that the Government is planning to divert $375 million from the aid budget to help meet the rising costs of support for asylum-seekers and refugees at home has caused quite a stir. The Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, has offered some justification and precedent for the decision, which is largely driven by the political imperative to bring the budget back into surplus. But the fact is that this represents a massive reallocation of Australia's aid budget away from poverty reducing programs overseas to meet domestic refugee support costs. The way the decision has been taken also raises disturbing questions about the integrity of the aid program. The Foreign Minister says this isn't a cut to foreign aid, and in a strict sense he is right. Under Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) rules (pdf), governments are allowed to report the first 12 months of in-country support costs for refugees as Official Development Assistance – the bureaucratese for "aid". The Foreign Minister even points to three donor… read more

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  • 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… read more

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