Public Support Grows for International Aid in the Face of Isolationism
14 February 2017 at 8:39 am
Australian values of “a fair go” and equity for those “doing it tough” are standing strong in the face of a “global trend of eroding trust”, according to a new report which reveals public support for international aid is increasing.
The latest statistics from the Australian Council for International Development showed donations from Australian communities increased by 10 per cent, or $83 million, between 2014 and 2015.
According to ACFID’s annual report 2015/16 around 1.6 million Australians (up 7 per cent from 2014) donated a total of $921 million to 130 Australian aid and development NGOs, while around 80,000 Aussies also gave their time to international causes.
ACFID CEO Marc Purcell told Pro Bono News that while Donald Trump and the politics of isolation were “getting a lot of media”, this evidence pointed to “something else that is very strong in the Australian community”.
“Despite the global rhetoric of isolation, millions of Australians are not asking: ‘What’s in it for me?’ Instead, they are resolutely sticking by longstanding values of a fair go, equity for those ‘doing it tough’ and generosity to help others,” Purcell said.
“The statistics show that Australians have the courage of their convictions.
“In the face of calls to withdraw from the world they continue to proudly support humanitarian and development aid to help people overseas and tackle the most pressing global challenges, like extreme poverty.
“I think the election of President Trump has really sent a shudder through the international system and people are worried about protectionism and isolationism, and we can see that phenomenon, that push from within countries from some parts of the population is present in Australia as well, as America and England of course with Brexit.
“But what this information shows is that there is a very solid base of Australians that are engaged with organisations, connected and helping others in the world. And they are doing that because they believe it is important to assist others, to cooperate internationally on common challenges and problems, and demonstrate the Australian values; that we are a country, an island, and we get on with others by doing the right thing by others in the world.”
According to the latest report support for small aid and development NGOs also grew, with overall funding more than doubling from $21 million to $53 million between 2014 and 2015.
In the same period, Australian communities raised over $143 million to help nations through humanitarian emergencies such as tropical cyclone Pam and the catastrophic earthquake in Nepal.
On Tuesday, an analysis of community support for international aid and development across each federal parliamentary electorate is set to be presented to their respective MPs.
The minister for international development and the pacific, Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, will launch the electoral snapshots at a reception in Parliament.
Purcell said it was important to take the message to Parliament.
“From the prime minister’s electorate of Wentworth to the leader of the opposition’s electorate of Maribyrnong, community groups, churches, schools and businesses support NGOs working overseas, whether it’s through donations or giving their time to an issue they care about,” he said.
“Many Australians proudly uphold personal connections to another country through family or friends, or they are volunteers who have returned from overseas.
“These people-to-people connections help nurture enduring relationships between nations and act as a way to build international collaboration.
“We really want to take this message into our Parliament, to our politicians because I think they have been too inwards looking the last few years and they really need to recognise that there is a substantial base there in the Australian public that care about being engaged with the world.”
Purcell said the government also needed to look more closely at their aid programs are as well.
“It would be good if our politicians showed a bit more support for the government’s own aid program, which has been a bit of a whipping boy with budget cuts over the last few years.”