Jackie Perkins, New South Wales Regional Meeting.
In 2000, Australia agreed to play its part in global efforts to halve the number of people living in poverty by 2015. Australians can be proud that, so far, their leaders have kept this promise made in our name. This commitment has been supported by both sides of politics, as it should be. This is Australia’s promise to the world’s poor, no matter who is in Government.
Millions of Australians expect this commitment to be maintained. And millions more of those living in poverty are depending on it.
To achieve the 0.5 per cent target means that just 50 cents in every $100 of our national income will go towards our aid program. This falls short of the global target of 0.7 per cent, but it still means a lot to the world’s poor.
In an Open Letter to the Prime Minister, signed by 152 CEOs and Board chairs of development NGOs, including our own Kay de Vogel and Jackie Perkins from Quaker Service Australia, and a number of celebrities, all agreed with Andrew Hewett Executive Director of Oxfam Australia who said that ‘It is unacceptable that more than 20,000 children still die every single day due mostly to diseases that are entirely preventable.’
Geoffrey Rush, Australian of the Year and UNICEF Ambassador said ‘We have made enormous progress in the battle against poverty. Australia must not cede the commitment to aid that is held across the political spectrum. To do so will jeopardise the futures of millions of people who have been given the opportunity to lift themselves out of poverty, in no small part, thanks to Australia’s foreign aid’.
QSA, although one of the smaller development agencies in Australia, recognises the significance of the global challenge and of the improvements that have and are being made, but more is needed. The money promised by the Government to be spent on aid is desperately needed, so that, along with the money so generously donated by the public, we can continue to make a difference.
In this open letter we ask the Prime Minister to recognise that we cannot balance the budget with the lives of the world’s poor, and it is up to her, and her ministers, to prove that when Australia makes a promise, we keep it!
This open letter was prepared by the peak body ACFID (Australian Council for International development) and was signed off by a number of development agencies and celebrities. It has been modified for publication in Australian Friend.