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Busting myths about Australian aid

World Vision
24 January 2013 by Dom McInerney
Busting myths about Australian aid

Australia Day is upon us, and it’s a great opportunity to celebrate living in the lucky country, and the values that Australia stands for.

One of those values – the idea of barracking for the underdog – is considered a quintessentially Australian trait. If this is true, then Australia’s overseas aid program is the embodiment of this value.

The program saves countless lives every year, and supports hundreds of thousands of the world’s poorest people to improve their lives. But in recent times public support for the aid program has wavered.

At this time of year the calendar is filled with parties and barbecues. And more often than not, I find myself explaining overseas aid when people find out I work for World Vision. (This usually happens somewhere between defending my footy team and arguing my case for how to best cook the sausages). Those who disagree with overseas aid are quick to tell me!

But the most worrying aspect of these criticisms is that people often base their objections on oft-repeated myths; things like “the money doesn’t get there”, “it’s all lost to corruption” or “charity begins at home”.

But many other people are just curious, because the truth is that not many of us know what Australia’s aid program actually does.

Over the past few months, I’ve been lucky enough to contribute to a new initiative called Good Aid Works, which sets out to show Australians the amazing work of the Australian aid program.

For example, did you know that less than half of 1 percent of our nation’s income is spent on helping the poor in developing countries?

Or that the estimated potential losses as a consequence of fraud in 2009–10 equated to a tiny 0.028 percent of the Australian overseas aid fund? In the same year, Centrelink had a greater rate of fraud.

But more important than these statistics is the human stories; the individuals whose sense of worth and hope for the future has been restored by their involvement with Australian aid programs.

I’m fortunate enough to be able to say to people, “I’ve been there, I’ve seen the difference Australian aid is making”.

Good Aid Works shares stories of Australian aid success from around the world to give Australians a little taste of that powerful first-hand experience.

The project starts in earnest this week with an infographic which busts the many myths that exist about Australia’s overseas aid. Take a look, and share it on Facebook and Twitter.

There are new resources being added to the Good Aid Works website all the time. World Vision Australia will continue to contribute to this project and share new stories throughout the year, so be sure to check back in regularly.

And this let’s give Australian aid the support it deserves.

Dom McInerney works in communications and is heading up the new Good Aid Works website, which shares the stories behind Australian aid.

Do you think Australians hear enough about the country’s foreign aid program? What would you like to know more about?

Dom McInerney Dom McInerney

Dom McInerney is the campaign leader for food security at World Vision Australia. He also heads up the new website Good Aid Works, which shares the stories behind Australian aid.


5 Responses

  • Karli says:

    Thanks Dom, a timely reminder, and great stats and stories to demonstrate the great impact Australian aid can have. I’m always reminded of Tim Costello’s message, “Charity may begin at home, but it certainly doesn’t end there” when I also cross people at “the barbeque” who are unsupportive of our efforts and commitments. Great post! (and, I didn’t know that about Centrelink Fraud!)

  • Dom says:

    Hi Karli – Tim is definitely right on this one. I think it’s a real trap to think we have to ‘choose’ between helping people in Australia or overseas. It’s possible to believe in both, and Australia can afford both!

  • Dom says:

    Also (forgot to say) – the statistic about fraud, and the comparison to Centrelink, is a good one but we shouldn’t need it! Both Australian overseas aid and Centrelink have fraud detection rates below 1% – impressive for both I reckon.

  • Sambo says:

    Why aren’t we hearing more about the good work that aid does? Surely if the Government trumpeted Australian aid, there’d be less of a public backlash about how much of our money goes overseas? Or maybe this is actually in the government’s interests, since they’re planning to divert aid for domestic purposes and probably don’t want us talking about it anyway..

  • Dom says:

    Sambo, your reaction is very common; people are always staggered when they learn even a little bit about Australia’s aid program. Good Aid Works is an effort to share some of the successes of the aid program.

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