Youth Ambassador Abbey in Timor-Leste. Photo by Lucy Aulich, World Vision
Thank you for taking the time to respond to my concerns when I wrote to you in May asking your government not to cut aid.
Earlier this year I turned 18, and received a letter from you asking for feedback and thoughts on the issues that I care about. This is one of them. Australia has a lot to contribute as a generous and open global citizen with the resources and skill to make a huge impact on human wellbeing, but these cuts to foreign aid do not support this. If other developed nations can make higher contributions to aid, there is no reason that we cannot.
While I appreciate that the Government’s budget position is not ideal, Australia still has the 6th lowest debt as a share of GNI of the 28 OECD nations. This means that while we are one of the most wealthy and least indebted countries in the world, we are still only the 13th most generous nation of the OECD. Under new Government plans, we have dropped to the 19th most generous.
We don’t have to choose between funding programs within our borders and funding them overseas. We are able to do both. We also know that foreign aid works: in the last year, Australian aid enabled over 1.3 million more children to go to school, gave 2.9 million people access to safe drinking water and increased basic sanitation for over 1 million people, among many other things. This was all achieved through an aid budget that cost less than one per cent of the Federal Budget. Cutting these services harms the poorest people on earth. In the 21st century, no nation can retreat from engagement with the world, and Australia has a lot to contribute as a generous and open global citizen with the resources and skill to make a huge impact on human wellbeing.
As a young Australian, I want to be able to say that I am part of a nation that is committed to helping our neighbours, but right now it does not seem to be the case. As a young Australian, I want to be able to say that our Australian values of fairness, generosity and caring for our mates do not stop at our borders, but sadly, it seems they do. As a young Australian, I want to say that my country is serious about recognising its international role in ending poverty, but these cuts to foreign aid say otherwise.
We can and should be doing better.
In hope and in fairness,