Aussies come together to end COVID for all
19 August 2020 at 8:00 am
More than 150 organisations and over 13,000 Australians have signed a pledge in solidarity with poorer nations
Australians are being urged to offer their support to vulnerable neighbouring countries battling COVID-19 with weaker health systems, as momentum grows for an aid campaign backed by major humanitarian groups.
Initiated by Micah Australia, with support from the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) and Campaign for Australian Aid, the “End COVID for all” movement asserts that the pandemic won’t be over for anyone until it’s over for everyone.
Since its launch in June, it has grown to a coalition of more than 150 organisations that includes charities, businesses, churches and health groups.
To mark World Humanitarian Day on Wednesday, several high-profile Australians – including Carrie Bickmore, Sammy J, Adam Liaw, Dr. Susan Carland and Mel Doyle – have jumped on board the campaign and will urge people to join the more than 13,000 Australians who have signed the “End COVID for All” pledge.
This pledge calls on the Australian government to contribute its fair share of global humanitarian funding and increase support to crisis areas.
Former Australian of the Year Professor Fiona Stanley said although the pandemic has affected us all, it has not affected everyone equally.
“In Australia we have been very fortunate to battle COVID-19 with a strong health and social support system,” Stanley said.
“Australians know that we have a long road ahead to overcome this pandemic, but while our borders are closed, our hearts are not.
“While we face our own challenges at home, we can still offer critical support to those who are far less equipped to deal with this crisis.”
Advocates note that close neighbours such as Indonesia and India are struggling to contain the virus, with the Indian outbreak now resulting in around 60,000 new cases a day.
In Papua New Guinea thousands of school children have no running water, while in Timor-Leste there are only five ICU beds for the entire population.
Campaign spokesperson Tim Costello told Pro Bono News that the Australian government needed to step up its support of these nations.
“We would love the Australian government to recognise that the Pacific step up shouldn’t come at the cost of actually reducing aid in poor countries in Asia,” Costello said.
“We still have a strong health system, and these nations with fragile health systems and a rapidly spreading virus are overwhelmed.
“And Australia has the expertise and has the resources to help through our aid program.”
This campaign comes at a time when Australian international aid levels are at an historic low of 0.21 per cent of Gross National Income (GNI).
Costello said the Australian aid sector as a whole was struggling to cope during the pandemic.
“[Coronavirus] has made it much more difficult to do a lot of the routine things aid organisations do every day that give people life and hope,” he said.
“Things have to either be slowed down, or stopped, just to protect aid workers. Many real heroes are working overseas on the frontlines caring for the vulnerable and showing amazing courage and sacrifice.”
Those interested in joining the campaign can do so here.