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 given my role, more often than not I find myself explaining overseas aid to people. (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 with the support of Australian aid, Vanuatu has reduced the incidence of malaria by 80 percent?
- Or 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 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, so be sure to check back in regularly. And this let’s give Australian aid the support it deserves.
Dom McInerney – Good Aid Works
Oxfam Australia is a supporter of the Good Aid Works project