ChildFund Australia CEO Nigel Spence has welcomed the announcement by Opposition Foreign Affairs spokesperson Penny Wong that the Labor government will rebuild the Australian Aid program, if successful at the next Federal Election.
Mr Spence said: “Australia has a long history as a generous donor and partner to developing countries in our region.
“This has helped us to forge a reputation as a good neighbour, willing to contribute its fair share to reducing poverty, providing emergency humanitarian assistance, and upholding and advancing international frameworks and standards.
“Unfortunately, successive cuts to our overseas development assistance (ODA) have weakened efforts to overcome poverty in the region and has meant that our reputation has been tarnished. We welcome Senator Wong’s recognition that the Australian Aid program is an important pillar of our foreign policy.”
Currently, the aid budget is at its lowest level in Australia’s history. Five years of budget reductions, amounting to $11b, mean that ODA accounts for just just 22c in every $100 of gross national income and is on track to decline further, to just 19c in 2021.
Among its developed country peers, Australia has the 9th largest economy of the 30 nations, yet in terms of generosity as an aid donor it is now at 19th place, having fallen from 13th in 2011.
Mr Spence notes: “The current status of our aid program is such a poor reflection of our national values of compassion, generosity and fairness.
“Not only does Australian Aid improve conditions for the world’s poorest children and families, but it serves our national interests by fostering inclusive economic growth, creating new trading markets, countering instability and reducing conflict in our region.”
While Penny Wong did not elaborate on how much the aid budget would increase by each year, a resolution was passed at the Labor Party Conference to “achieve a funding target for the international development program of at least 0.5% of gross national income”.
The Coalition government has yet to announce changes to foreign policy, but Mr Spence has urged that both sides of politics come together on aid.
“In 2014, the Senate Inquiry into Australia’s overseas aid and development assistance program recommended that a bipartisan agreement on the long-term funding of Australian’s overseas development be developed, in order to reach international targets.
“Five years later, we want to see this become a reality. Regardless of who wins the next Federal Election, we want to see an Australian Aid program that is valued by all of our government representatives, and that they demonstrate a real commitment to rebuilding, supporting and progressing the Australian Aid program.”
Polling released today has revealed that 1 in 2 Australians would be happy to receive a charity donation on their behalf as a gift this Christmas.
The Essential Poll commissioned by ChildFund found that half of Australians would be either ‘pleased’ or ‘very pleased’ to receive a charity donation as a Christmas gift.
Just nine per cent of those polled say they would be ‘displeased’ with a gift of this kind.
Women aged 18-34 are the most open to charity donations this Christmas, with 58% saying they would be ‘pleased’ or ‘very pleased’.
ChildFund Australian CEO, Nigel Spence, said the polling shows the Christmas spirit is alive and well in Australia.
Mr Spence said: “We know how generous Australians are, and these results are proof of that. So many more people are now choosing to give or receive a gift that has a lasting and positive impact.”
Christmas without waste, Aussies encouraged to give gifts that last a lifetime
ChildFund’s Gifts for Good catalogue offers a range of easy to purchase Xmas goodies that will deliver lasting joy to disadvantaged children in our neighbouring countries, and add some extra meaning to our own celebrations – without adding to the huge amount of waste that occurs over Christmas.
Nigel Spence, ChildFund Australia CEO said: “Australians spend a lot of money each year on presents that go unused. That’s why we’re encouraging them to think about buying a gift that will fulfil an important need for children living in developing countries.
“This could be an item that is life-saving – like mosquito nets which prevent malaria. Or it could be a gift that is life-changing – like a bike to help a child in a remote village travel the long distance to school.
With Gifts for Good, everyday Australians can buy scholarships, chicken farms, first aid kits, water filters, farm animals and warm jackets for vulnerable children and families who really need our support. There is a huge range to choose from, and it can all be ordered online.
“Australians are incredibly generous, and never more so than at Christmas. When you buy a Gift for Good, you can be confident that it won’t be forgotten once the wrapping has been torn off, or re-gifted to someone else next year.
“Instead, these gifts will bring joy and have a long-lasting and positive impact for children and families doing it tough.” Mr Spence said.
Summer sports without shoes is no fun – give the gift of play
This Christmas, Aussie icons are getting on board for ethical gift giving by encouraging others to buy a child in a developing country the best gift of all – the gift of play.
Emily Chancellor, Wallaroos Player of the Year, said: “For less than $50, you can buy two pairs of sports shoes for children in countries like Laos and Vietnam.
“It’s hard to imagine but playing barefoot is common in many parts of Asia, and means children are more vulnerable to injury, or just less inclined to play when it hurts your feet to run on rocky ground.
“Being able to play sport has been so important to my life. So to be able to give other kids the same opportunity through the gift of sports shoes is really special to me.”
Bondi Lifeguards and ChildFund Ambassadors Ryan Clark, Corey Olive and Andy Reid are also passionate about the importance of play: “Being able to chuck on a pair of joggers and kick a ball around in the backyard is what Australian childhoods are all about.
“It’s something we often take for granted, but not every child in our neighbourhood is so lucky.
“Sports shoes means kids can play, get active, have fun with their friends – it’s the ultimate gift really. And they come in handy when you’re trying to cross the sand on a hot day too!”
Visit the ChildFund Gifts for Good catalogue