Against a backdrop of intersecting local economic and social crises, the Australian Treasurer handed down this government’s third federal budget on Tuesday night. Significant daily challenges are looming large for most Australians—surging cost-of-living expenses, an increasingly unaffordable housing and rental market, and stubbornly high inflation. Given these realities affect almost everyone, there was an increased level of interest in this year’s announcement, from individuals through to whole sectors, including our own.

Provision We’re Pleased To See

As one of just 43 aid and development agencies fully accredited by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Baptist World Aid Australia received more than five million dollars in grants from the Australian Non-Government Cooperation Program (ANCP) during the last financial year. These funds, granted under conditions of oversight, assessment, and accountability, are dedicated to our international programs in five countries across 18 projects around the globe. As such, we were pleased to learn that even in strained economic times, ongoing provision for this crucial aid program and its participants has been maintained.

Are We Doing Enough?

However, despite some funding increases in portions of the budget, and signs of important new investment directed towards climate initiatives, (particularly in the Pacific) overall projected spending on overseas aid and development is now at a record low of just 0.19 % of Australia’s Gross National Income (GNI).

Sadly, Australia remains one of the least generous countries in the world per capita among developed nations. In fact, what we give away to our international neighbours has been tracking downward as a percentage of our income for more than 50 years, with the direction of this trend projected to only drop further in coming years. 

According to Foreign Minister, Senator Penny Wong, a generous aid budget is good foreign policy. She’s described the building of relationships through aid and development as a fundamental component of maintaining peace and security for Australia, and the region. We couldn’t agree more but unfortunately, the figures delivered this week do not reflect this sentiment.

Increasing support for our global neighbours at a time when many Australians are struggling to make ends meet presents a significant political challenge. However, the government has an opportunity at this moment to appeal to the best part of our society and demonstrate concrete movement towards their pledges. Now is not the time to turn inward and away from the needs of the millions of vulnerable people experiencing displacement, violence, and a future that is far from secure.

What Can You Do?

Our supporters show us regularly that Australians have great capacity to be generous—even in difficult times. That’s why, along with many other individuals and organisations, Baptist World Aid is a proud member of Micah Australia, and supports our sector-wide campaign—A Safer World for All.

A key message of this campaign is to insist on the real rebuilding of Australia’s aid budget to what is not just a sustainable development goal, but well within our capacity as a nation. Among other things, this campaign is advocating for an increase in Australia’s foreign aid budget to 0.37% of gross national income by 2027.

Director of Micah Australia, Matt Darvas has said ‘if we don’t play our part in addressing the challenges our world faces today, they risk becoming catastrophes tomorrow.’

You can join A Safer World For All by signing up today and adding your voice to advocate on behalf of our most vulnerable neighbours.