It’s hard to believe it, but here we are, at the end of 2018 already. In a tumultuous year that saw Australia change prime ministers again, we also witnessed some surprising wins with the federal and state governments agreeing to cut the tampon tax, bans on single-use plastic by major supermarkets, and an equal gender cabinet in Victoria’s government for the first time.
Despite these wins, this year has also been marked by continued political instability, growing domestic violence cases, drought, and ongoing tensions surrounding Australia’s offshore detention processes.
However, we saw Australian Global Citizens step up in a big way with the running Australian action total hitting 110,000, increased funding for polio eradication in Papua New Guinea, community meetups in cities across the country, and tens of thousands of calls for foreign aid increases and access to safe water and sanitation systems.
Here's everything you need to know about Global Citizen Australia’s achievements in 2018.
1. Australia Invests Millions to Fight Polio Outbreak
In October, newly appointed Foreign Minister Marise Payne announced Australia would provide $6 million to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative to help tackle the escalating vaccine-derived polio outbreak in Papua New Guinea. The financial injection is in line with our call to focus aid spending on preventing deadly preventable diseases and follows on from an existing $18 million donation to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative for 2018-2020.
Health Minister Greg Hunt and Shadow Health Minister Catherine King both committed at the annual Global Citizen World Polio Day Parliamentary event to continue to invest in the critical polio program. They also pledged to ensure Australia continues to be a global leader in advocating for every last child to be vaccinated against polio.
2. Australia Legislates End to Modern Slavery
It’s 2018, yet forced labour still occurs in every country in the world, and in 2016 more than 40 million people were victims of modern slavery. To combat the issue, Australia introduced new legislation, suitably named the Modern Slavery Bill.
Under the new bill, companies that have a turnover of more than $100 million annually will be made to publicly report on the risks of modern slavery within their operations and supply chains at the end of each financial year. More than 3,000 businesses are expected to be involved.
3. 40,000 Actions Taken to Increase Australia’s Foreign Aid Contribution
Globally, just under 40,000 people called on Australia to stand up for foreign aid while 34,000 urged the Australian government to show leadership on water and sanitation in the Indo-Pacific. This past week, the Australian government released MYEFO. It revealed a return to surplus for the first time in over a decade. Despite this, no increase to foreign aid was announced.
The Opposition has announced that it would increase the aid budget every year if elected in the next election from the current rate of 0.22% of gross national income to 0.5%.
Take Action: Spread The Word: Australian Aid Saves Lives
4. CHOGM Puts Girls Education and Health Funding on the Agenda
Rihanna and Global Citizens called on former Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to invest in the Global Partnership for Education in an effort to help get an additional 870 million children in school. This resulted in AUD $90 million being committed.
In addition, former Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells stood on the Global Citizen stage during a CHOGM side event in London in support of girls' education. Both stated that educating girls in emergencies was a core priority for them and urged the Commonwealth to take action on the issue.
"When we act collaboratively, we can make a difference globally. Australia will continue to support women and girls, as they are the ones who are likely to be disadvantaged for life unless their education is restored. So I invite all leaders at the summit this week to put it on the Commonwealth agenda," Bishop said.
5. Australia Eradicated Rubella
This year, the World Health Organisation officially confirmed that rubella had been eradicated throughout Australia. The accomplishment ignited widespread praise for the nation's health care system and National Immunisation Program.
"The elimination of rubella is a highly significant public health accomplishment for Australia and sends a powerful message that vaccinations work," Minister for Health Greg Hunt stated.
Global Citizens can continue to advocate for Sustainable Development Goal 3: Good Health and Well-Being (including the continued investment in life-saving vaccines) here.
Rewards, Rewards, Rewards
Each year, we offer up free tickets for our Australian Global Citizens to attend shows from some of the best live artists in the world as a massive thank you for their continued support for our mission. This year, our wonderful action takers received tickets to St Jerome’s Laneway Festival, Taylor Swift, Cher, Shania Twain, Kevin Hart, Twenty One Pilots, P!NK, The Invictus Games, Mandela My Life: The Official Exhibition, and many, many more. You can meet five Aussie winners who won big with Global Citizen Rewards in 2018 here.
Our incredible rewards program continues bigger and better in 2019. The current line-up for next year includes acts like three-time Grammy award-winning pop group Maroon 5, global superstar Shawn Mendes and Australian comedian, actor, writer, and musician Tim Minchin.
The impact you made on ending extreme poverty in 2018 was unbelievable. So, let us say thank you! Together, let’s make 2019 an even greater year of unity and success.