On Friday I was interviewed by Geraldine Coutts from Radio Australia on the growing concern over Australia’s foreign aid budget. As we get closer to the Federal Budget announcement there is the usual frenzy of media speculation – who is going to benefit; who is going to be worse off? There has been much speculation within the international development sector that foreign aid is on the Government’s hit list for what will undoubtedly be a tough budget, but the world’s poorest and most disadvantaged people should not be sacrificed so Australia can have a national surplus.
Having witnessed firsthand the impact Australia’s aid program is having – particularly when it comes to eye health , I am concerned that a cut in foreign aid will mean that some of the 285 million people worldwide who are blind or vision impaired will not receive the help they need. Even though most of us will face hard times at some point in our life, it is nothing compared to the back-breaking, soul-destroying, gut-wrenching poverty beyond the imagining of most people in the developed world. I think we all acknowledge that we are lucky to live in this great country. Australians are generous people – more than 2 million Australian households support aid organisations each year. This is fantastic and demonstrates that, as a nation, we have a strong moral compass. We mustn’t forget that Australia has made a commitment to the world’s poor and saving sight can be the difference between a life of poverty and a fulfilling, healthy existence.
I believe Australia has an opportunity to transform the lives of millions and really make an impact on reducing global poverty. I hope the Government shares that vision and keeps its commitment to increasing foreign aid.
Click here to hear the interview in full.