World Vision Australia today welcomed the Australian Labor Party’s commitment to invest more in Australian aid if elected in the upcoming federal election.
Chief Executive Officer Claire Rogers said pledging to raise aid spending as a proportion of Gross National Income (GNI) every year over the next four years was an important first step toward ending the nation’s devastating era of aid cuts.
“Churches, business leaders and everyday Australians have been pleading with both the major parties to start rebuilding the aid budget and restore Australia’s reputation as a generous nation,” Ms Rogers said.
“The damage caused by successive cuts to the Australian aid budget will take years to undo,” Ms Rogers said. “While today’s pledge is a good start to rebuilding the aid budget we have a long way to go before Australia is doing its fair share.”
Ms Rogers also praised the Australian Labor Party’s pledge to appoint an independent children’s advocate to represent the interests of children seeking asylum.
“Children represent more than 50 per cent of refugees. Today’s pledge would give some of the world’s most vulnerable people a fair chance,” Ms Rogers said.
Ms Rogers re-iterated World Vision’s call to both major parties to reach a bipartisan agreement on aid policy.
“As the federal government’s Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade recommended in April, we need to put politics aside and secure a bipartisan commitment to increase Australia’s aid funding and enact legislation that will protect aid as a core asset in our foreign policy approach, regardless of election cycles.”
Despite being one of the world’s most prosperous countries, Australia lags behind peers like New Zealand and the UK on aid generosity, currently ranked 19th out of the 29 major OECD Development Assistance Committee countries, as a proportion of income.
Research consistently finds Australia’s contribution does not reflect community attitudes. A 2018 Lowy Institute poll revealed Australians thought we invested about 14 per cent of the federal budget on aid but believed it should be about 10 per cent, when in reality it was around only 0.8 per cent.
“Climate change, inequality and refugees are core priorities and the community is calling for action,” Ms Rogers said. “As a global citizen Australia can make the world a safer and more prosperous place in which all can flourish.
“At a time of major global threats and massive global humanitarian need, Australia should respond with compassion and advocate for the rights of all humanity. Today’s announcement by the Australian Labor Party is a step in the right direction.”