The federal budget missed an opportunity to do something radical to reduce global poverty, writes Kirsty Robertson. Source: Eureka Street.
Working in aid and development for over 20 years, you wait with bated breath for what each federal budget will bring. The past four years have seen a series of cuts. This year seems like a good news story, with a much-needed one-off increase of $304.7 million to Timor-Leste and the Pacific for COVID-19 response and recovery.
At Caritas Australia, there were cheers from the program teams of these regions for an injection of funds that they know all too well are desperately needed. This funding is vital to support our closest neighbours to avoid the worst social and economic costs of COVID-19 and I, along with many of my colleagues, welcomed it.
But, there was a trade-off. In fact, this budget is a missed opportunity. It was a chance for the government to do something radical, to make real and defined impacts. Instead, we’ve increased funding for some regions, but at the cost of some of the most marginalised populations in the world, who have experienced years of discrimination, poverty and displacement.
There have been cuts in aid to the Middle East, to Africa and even to Bangladesh, home of the world’s largest refugee camp in Cox’s Bazaar. Just read the news and you know that these regions are desperate, these regions are in crisis.
In order to reduce global poverty, it is necessary to maintain funding for long-term development programs which create sustainable solutions that change people’s lives. One-off funding for crises helps communities to respond, but the recovery process can take years or even decades for some countries, especially those also dealing with extreme weather like droughts, tropical cyclones or floods.
Kirsty Robertson is chief executive of Caritas Australia.
One-off funding not enough for the aid budget (Eureka Street)