New plea to PM to fight serious issue
Despite their own financial woes, most Australians are still keen on helping out nations dealing with famine, drought, and natural disasters, according to new data.
A new survey of 1055 Australian voters found a growing majority of Australians — 60 per cent — back the federal government funding overseas aid to developing countries, despite the rising cost of living at home.
Support has risen from 57 per cent in 2021 and 52 per cent in 2019, according to the YouGov poll conducted for the Help Fight Famine campaign.
Sixty-five per cent of respondents said they supported Australia donating more to countries in the Horn of Africa, where the number of children facing severe hunger, thirst, and disease has risen to 20.2 million from 10 million in July.
The Help Fight Famine campaign, which brings together a number of foreign aid organisations such as Oxfam Australia, will make its case to the government when it presents its pre-budget submission to federal parliament on Monday.
According to the submission, one person is dying every 48 seconds from hunger in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia.
Congolese-Australian aid worker Lulu Mitshabu, who will launch the paper, said the fact that children were dying of starvation was an “unthinkable tragedy.”
“We often overlook the broader effects, such as the surge in child marriages or the millions of children missing school,” said Ms Mitshabu.
“Australians are good and decent people and when things are tough they chip in. We all thank Australia for its generosity and urge the government to give what it can to save lives.”
Help Fight Famine is calling on the federal government to raise the annual allocation of the Humanitarian Emergency Fund to $300m, and invest $200m annually in a Global Food Security Strategy to fight the root causes of hunger.
The group also wants a commitment to raise the aid budget to 0.5 per cent of gross national income, and for this target to be enshrined in law as a matter of urgency.
The next federal budget — the Albanese government’s second — is due to be handed down in May.
Oxfam Australia chief executive Lyn Morgain said Australia should invest to deal with the immediate starvation crisis but also develop a long-term strategy to address global hunger.
“In the Horn of Africa, children are starving to death in increased numbers,” said Ms Morgain
“And across the world more people than ever go to bed hungry and wake up unsure how they’ll sustain themselves or their family.
“The world is getting hotter, conflicts are erupting, new and unknown diseases are emerging. But food is essential. And through science, co-operation and investment no-one needs to go hungry.”