5 things Australia’s next government can do now to help end extreme poverty

Despite considerable progress in recent decades, extreme poverty rates are risingas if global inequalities.

Humanitarian crises abound, notably in Ukraine and Tigray, while the environment and climate are in peril. the United Nations Global Goals – who aspire to end hunger, realize human rights for all and advance gender equality by 2030 – are further out of reach than ever.

There has never been a more critical time for world leaders to work collectively for a better future for all.

Australia’s May federal election is the perfect time for the country’s leaders to ensure urgent action is taken to alleviate the suffering of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. Australians care deeply and want to see the country’s policies reflect the generous and ambitious nation that we are.

Australia’s 47th Parliament brings new hope to many.

Global Citizen Oceania has identified five key initiatives for the government of the next parliament to prioritize in order to ensure a better future for all, especially those in the Pacific region.

1. Increase Australia’s overseas aid budget

Australia’s international aid spending – money intended to build stability and promote prosperity around the world – is at its least generous level in history. At the same time, the money Australia spends on aid, at around 0.21% of gross national income, does not always prioritize tackling poverty.

It is imperative that the nation’s aid spending be increased in every federal budget to the ultimate target of 0.7%, the spending benchmark agreed by UN countries, including Australia.

2. New funding to fight HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria

Australia should also make strong new commitments to support The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. New funding of AU$450 million would allow the organization to continue its efforts to tackle the injustice and inequality that fuel infectious diseases.

Since 2002, the organization — and the donors, like Australia, who support it — have saved more than 44 million lives.

Australia is a long-time supporter of the partnership, contributing $961.31 million to date. In the Sixth Replenishment of the Global Fund, which covers the years between 2020 and 2022, Australia pledged $242 millionof which $143.1 million has already been distributed.

3. New funding for polio eradication

The world has never been closer to eradicating poliomyelitis, a deadly and highly contagious disease.

While poliomyelitis dominated in 125 countries in 1988, today, in 2022, poliomyelitis remains endemic in only two countries: Pakistan and Afghanistan. This incredible feat was made possible by countries around the world who decided that a polio-free world was worth fighting for. Through donations to key health organizations like the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (IMEP), an estimated 16 million people are walking today who would otherwise have been paralyzed by disease.

Australia has always been a champion in ending polio, which is not expected to end anytime soon.

A pledge of $20 million to the GPEI at the initiative’s next replenishment in October will help ensure that this preventable disease becomes the second to be eradicated, behind smallpox.

4. Increased climate finance and updated net zero target for 2030

Climate change is the defining crisis of our time.

While Australia recently committed to a net zero emissions plan for 2050 and pledged half a billion dollars to help the Pacific and Southeast Asia deal with the climate crisis, this not enough. Australia provided less than 20% of its “fair share” to the climate finance plan it committed to in 2009. At the same time, to limit global warming to below 1.5 degrees Celsius, a much more ambitious net zero emissions target is needed.

Global Citizen is calling on Australian leaders to commit to a bold plan to achieve 74% emissions reductions by 2030 to ensure Australian climate action begins now, not later, so that the worst effects of climate change can be avoided, especially among Pacific communities.

5. New funding for girls’ education

Adolescent girls hold the key to breaking the cycle of extreme poverty, making investing in their future the morally right and economically wise thing to do. Global Citizen believes wealthy countries, including Australia, must uplift adolescent girls with critical investments in their education now.

Education can’t wait (ECW) is the world’s leading organization dedicated to education in emergencies.

The organization is currently seeking new funding for the three years from 2023 to 2026. Given enough money, the organization says it could ensure that an additional 10 million children in at least 25 crisis-affected countries receive l education they desperately need. Not only does the organization focus on education, ECW also ensures that students, especially girls, have access to healthy food, clean water, and proper sanitation facilities.

Australia is expected to pledge $32 million to ECW at its September replenishment.

Julio V. Miller