With a new government in place and at least 19 new politicians headed to Canberra, what we want to know is how this change will affect the world’s poor.
For the first time in over three decades, poverty is on the rise. The significant bounds made in reducing poverty as a global community are being reversed due to the triple threat of COVID-19, increasing conflict and climate change. Recent projections show that by the end of this year, 860 million people could be living in extreme poverty, an increase of 260 million people since the beginning of the pandemic.
Now is the time for wealthy nations, like Australia to step up and generously invest in our world.
The Labor party have made a number of commitments to increasing the aid budget and strengthening both funding and relationships with our international neighbours. Whilst the official budget will be released in October, the following commitments have been made:
- Gradually increase aid to 0.5% of Gross National Income (GNI) by lifting it every year by 0.1%, starting with the first budget – this has come at a vital time with Australia’s aid budget currently sitting at a historic low of just 0.21% of GNI.
- Commit $525m to Pacific Island countries to help support health, economic growth, education, climate change adaptation and resilience
- Provide a $470m development package to South East Asia
- Create an office within the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) specifically for the region of Southeast Asia
- Increase funding to NGO’s which deliver development programs (NCAP) by $32m over the next 4 years.
Labor plans to redirect aid funding to greater prioritise women and children, ensuring that 80% of Australia’s aid investments address gender issues and tackle violence against women and children. They also seek to act on Pacific Island warnings of the threat of climate change by investing in climate infrastructure and increasing climate partnership in the Pacific.
To better support these changes and to ensure that Australia’s aid and development program is effective, the new government plans to develop a new international development strategy.
With our Safer World For All campaign we are calling upon the Government to increase life-saving humanitarian aid to conflict & hunger hotspots in Ukraine, Myanmar, the Horn of Africa and Middle East. These nations and regions are facing some of the world’s largest humanitarian crises.
Many of the aid commitments Labor have made are strictly to countries within our region, which is great progress, but unfortunately risks overlooking other regions with even greater need. It is an important reminder to be supporting those with the greatest need, not just those who serve our national interests.
These increased commitments to aid and development are good news and we warmly welcome them. But across our world, the humanitarian need continues to significantly surpasses the support which we are providing. In 2022 alone, it is predicted that 274 million people will be in need of life-saving humanitarian assistance. Greater investments are needed both to accurately reflect the generosity of Australians and to ensure that our global neighbours have their humanity restored.
To conclude, here is an urgent message to the new Australian Government from the combined CEOs of Australia’s Christian aid agencies-