I attended Voices for Justice for the first time in 2014 and the sense I had of being part of something daring – something that could really make a difference – made Voices for Justice one of the highlights of my year.
I went with a group of people from my church (Seaforth Baptist). It had long been talked about in my church as an awesome and inspiring opportunity to learn about global issues and be equipped to advocate for the benefit of the poor.
In 2014, this involved learning about something I felt I knew absolutely nothing about: tax.
Though daunted at first, by the end of the first two days of training, something that had seemed scary and complicated became something that I not only had knowledge of, but was passionate to speak up about. It was outrageous to discover that developing countries were losing an estimated $160 billion from tax dodging by multinational companies – far more than the $120 billion they received collectively in aid! By the end of the weekend I was convinced that tax dodging was a modern-day structural injustice exploiting the poor… and it was something that we could actually do something about, especially considering it was the lead up to the G20.
It was outrageous to discover that developing countries were losing an estimated $160 billion from tax dodging by multinational companies – far more than the $120 billion they received collectively in aid!
My electorate group brainstormed how we were going to present this issue to the three politicians we were meeting. A certain group member suggested a hilarious way involving apple pies: we would use a small, individual pie to represent the $120 billion of aid being given, and then a family-sized pie to represent the $160 billion that developing nations were missing out on, which could have been going towards providing better services for their own citizens. The message to come out of these meetings was “Let’s go after the bigger pie!”
All of our meetings went really well. These politicians knew that tax dodging was bad for Australia – but it was a gift to have the time and opportunity to also tell them of the cost to some of the world’s poorest people, whose perspective likely would never have been otherwise heard by Australian politicians.
I remember the rush of excitement I had when we saw that Andrew Giles, one of the politicians we had met, had made a speech in Parliament. I even got a specific mention! Not that that’s the point of course – but as a young person it did make me feel heard and respected.
Even better, the campaign overall contributed towards Australia signing up to some really significant initiatives to help tackle tax dodging, such as sharing tax information on an automatic basis with other developed countries from 2017, and calling for an end to anonymous shell companies that facilitate illicit financial flows.
My experience at Voices for Justice well and truly awakened me to the genuine power of advocacy – of people being prepared to learn and speak about things of great importance to God. This was a tangible way to live out my desire to see God’s justice seep more fully into the world.
My experience at Voices for Justice well and truly awakened me to the genuine power of advocacy – of people being prepared to learn and speak about things of great importance to God.
It was this sense of being a part of something – something daring, something that could really make a difference – that made me realise that attending Voices was one of the highlights of my year. This has further led me to intern with Micah this year, for which I’m extremely grateful and excited.
I’m looking forward to continuing being part of a movement this year that is willing to use their voice to bless others. Will I see you at Voices for Justice this November?
Cherry Johnson attended Voices for Justice in 2014 and is currently a volunteer intern at Micah Australia.
Voices for Justice 2016 registrations are now open for the National Gathering in Canberra, as well as events in Adelaide and Brisbane. Click here for more details.