For many, 2020 would undoubtedly be one of the most challenging years to date.
The health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented, as are the virus's socioeconomic effects across domestic violence rates, homelessness, inequality, mental health, poverty, hunger, and education.
In Australia, Melbourne was thrust into one of the world’s strictest and longest lockdowns in an attempt to contain its second outbreak, which saw businesses crumble across the state and almost 5 million citizens confined to their homes for 112 days.
However, during the year that took so much from all of us, there were also many incredible wins.
Check out some of Australia’s most noteworthy 2020 successes below — and here’s to a bigger and better 2021.
1. More Than $1 Billion Announced in New Australian Aid Funding for World’s Poor
Under #PartnershipsForRecovery in response to COVID19 we are focusing on health security, stability & economic recovery in the #IndoPacific. #Budget2020 is also helping the #Pacific & #TimorLeste recover through $304.7m in supplementary funding over 2 yrs.https://t.co/gp1zFyDJw1pic.twitter.com/LQhCjGhbtS— Marise Payne (@MarisePayne) October 6, 2020
Additional aid packages announced to help Australia’s closest neighbours deal with the pandemic have now reached over $1 billion — bringing Australia’s aid spending to the highest level in years.
The End COVID for All campaign, supported by Global Citizen, helped secure COVID-19 recovery packages for the Pacific and Timor-Leste and a package to help the procurement and rollout of COVID-19 vaccines to the Pacific and Southeast Asia.
2. The Entire State of South Australia Powered by Solar Energy for 1 Hour in World First
Between 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. on Oct. 11, the entire state of South Australia had its energy requirement met by solar power — a world first for a jurisdiction of its size. The state obtained the historic milestone primarily thanks to solar systems on the roofs of homes.
3. Australia Vows to Plant 25 Million Trees by 2025 to Compensate for Bushfire Destruction
Today we're proud to launch one of Australia's largest-ever restoration projects, planting 25M biodiverse trees by 2025 with @AstraZeneca and @EvergreeningA supported by @onetreeplanted and @2030_ark. Read more in today's @SMH: https://t.co/qItNKB9cOOhttps://t.co/mwVvm4qeHe— Greening Australia (@GreeningAust) September 21, 2020
Australia's largest-ever restoration project will see an impressive 25 million trees planted over the next half decade. The initiative by AstraZeneca, EverGreening Alliance and Greening Australia is meant to aid bushfire recovery following the Black Summer fires that saw more than 12 billion hectares of land burned.
The trees will also help lift 4.25 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere over the next 25 years.
4. 40,000 New Australians Sign Up to Be Global Citizens
Today’s the day! 🕺 Tune in to One World: #TogetherAtHome to say thank you to the healthcare workers on the frontline of COVID-19. The digital special is LIVE NOW and the broadcast starts at 10am AEST. Take the pledge to stay at home https://t.co/8dC7DzMmK8. pic.twitter.com/8cmkJgQjkC— Global Citizen Australia (@GlblCtznAU) April 18, 2020
The incredible success of Global Citizen’s One World: Together at Home and Global Goal: Unite for Our Future virtual events, which broadcast across Channel 9 and Channel 10, helped bring Global Citizen’s message to tens of thousands of Australians. The star power of artists like Lady Gaga and the influence of incredible global leaders inspired people from across the country to sign up and take action to work for a better world.
5. Australia Pledges $300 Million to Gavi to Help Fund Vaccines and Save Lives
#BREAKING: Australia just announced a new $300M AUD funding commitment to @gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. We are SO PROUD to see 🇦🇺 continuously step up for global health. Thank you @MarisePayne, @ScottMorrisonMP, @AlexHawkeMP and @GregHuntMP! ⭕️👏 pic.twitter.com/Gi0bNXLmH4— Global Citizen Australia (@GlblCtznAU) June 4, 2020
In early June, Australia pledged $300 million AUD in international aid to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, an organisation that aims to ensure the world's most vulnerable people have access to life-saving vaccines against deadly, preventable diseases. The incredible announcement was made during Gavi's virtual pledging conference, and formed part of $8.8 billion total committed by 32 nations.
6. Australia Joins COVAX Facility to Ensure COVID-19 Vaccine Access for Vulnerable Nations
Access to safe, effective and affordable COVID-19 vaccines will play a critical role in the economic recovery of the Indo-Pacific. Australia is proud to join the @Gavi COVAX Facility, protecting the Australian community and our region. @AusAmbRHSpic.twitter.com/DUakAUB5Fh— Marise Payne (@MarisePayne) September 23, 2020
The COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility, or COVAX, pools funds and supplies from developed and developing nations to accelerate vaccine research and delivery. By joining, Australia is committed to ensuring COVID-19 vaccines reach every individual in every country, not just those who can afford it.
7. Queensland Becomes First Australian State to Ban LGBTQ+ Conversion Therapy
LGBTQ+ conversion therapy, a cruel practice that attempts to "cure' homosexuality, has officially been criminalised in Queensland. The updated Health Legislation Amendment Bill states that any health service provider seen to be performing conversion therapy on a child or vulnerable individual will be charged with 18 months in jail.
8. Victoria Announces That All Public Schools Will Offer Free Pads and Tampons in an Australian First
Huge news for Victoria this afternoon, becoming the first state or territory in Australia to ensure all students attending government schools have access to free #pads and #tampons: https://t.co/w0UOOWZCPp#menstruation#periodpoverty#reproductivehealth— Family Planning NSW (@FamPlanningNSW) July 28, 2020
Every student in Victoria who menstruates will now have access to free pads and tampons. The Victorian government initiative is expected to boost inclusivity, save families money, ensure no school child suffers from period poverty and lessen the discomfort around periods.
9. Professor Brendan Crabb AC Wins Global Citizen Prize: Australia’s Hero Award
We are so thrilled that Professor Brendan Crabb AC is the winner of the 2020 @GlblCtzn Prize: Australia's Hero Award! He, and many others, were celebrated during #GCPrize! Missed the show? Watch here: https://t.co/a5tpc0RdDv— Global Citizen Australia (@GlblCtznAU) December 20, 2020
The Global Citizen Prize: Country Hero Award honours individuals who have demonstrated outstanding commitment to achieving the UN’s Global Goals and championing the world’s most vulnerable individuals. The award provided recipients with $10,000 to support their projects and was presented to people or organisations in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, Nigeria, South Africa and Mexico.
Professor Brendan Crabb AC, the director and CEO of medical research facility the Burnet Institute and the Chair of Pacific Friends of Global Health, has been awarded this year's inaugural Australia’s Hero Award. Crabb was selected thanks to his tireless effort to ensure the world's poor have access to appropriate health care and his dedication to reducing rates of disease.
10. Australian Artists Join Together At Home Instagram Live Sessions
Australian icons Guy Sebastian, Amy Shark, Tash Sultana, Harrison Storm, Vance Joy and G Flip all joined Global Citizen this year to encourage people around the world to practise social distancing and help stop the spread of COVID-19. The musicians took part in the “Together At Home” virtual concert series — a campaign launched by Global Citizen, in partnership with the World Health Organisation.