Despite tremendous progress over the past few decades, rates of extreme poverty are rising, as is global inequality.

Humanitarian crises abound, including in Ukraine and Tigray, while the environment and climate are in peril. The United Nations' Global Goals — which aspire to end hunger, achieve human rights for all and advance gender equality by 2030 — are further out of reach than ever.

There has never been a more critical time for world leaders to work collectively for a better future for all. 

Australia’s May Federal Election is the perfect time for the nation’s leaders to ensure urgent action is taken to alleviate the suffering of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. Australians care deeply and want to see the country’s policies reflect the generous and ambitious nation we are.  

Australia’s incoming 47th Parliament brings new hope for many. 

Global Citizen Oceania has laid out five key initiatives the government of the next parliament must prioritise in order to achieve a better future for all, especially those across the Pacific region.

1. Increase Australia’s Overseas Aid Budget

Australia’s international aid spending — money intended to enhance stability and promote prosperity worldwide — is at its least generous level in history. At the same time, the money Australia does spend on aid, at about 0.21% of gross national income, doesn’t always prioritise the fight against poverty. 

It is imperative that the nation’s aid spending be increased in each federal budget to the ultimate goal of 0.7%, the benchmark level of spending as agreed to by the countries of the United Nations, including Australia. 

2. New Funding to Tackle HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria 

Australia should also make new solid commitments to support the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. New funding of AU$450 million would allow the organisation to continue its efforts to fight the injustice and inequity that fuels infectious diseases. 

Since 2002, the organisation — and the donors, like Australia, that support it — have saved more than 44 million lives.

Australia has long supported the partnership, contributing $961.31 million to date. At the Global Fund’s Sixth Replenishment, which encompasses the years between 2020 and 2022, Australia pledged $242 million, of which $143.1 million has already been distributed. 

3. New Funding for Polio Eradication

The world has never been closer to eradicating polio, a deadly and highly contagious disease. 

While polio dominated in 125 countries in 1988, now, in 2022, polio remains endemic in only two countries: Pakistan and Afghanistan. This incredible feat has been made possible thanks to countries worldwide deciding that a polio-free world is worth fighting for. Through donations to key health organisations like the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (GPEI), an estimated 16 million people today are walking who would otherwise have been paralysed by the disease. 

Australia has always been a champion for an end to polio, which shouldn't stop anytime soon. 

A pledge of $20 million to the GPEI at the initiative’s upcoming October replenishment will help ensure this preventable disease becomes the second ever to be eradicated, behind smallpox.

4. Increased Climate Financing and Updated 2030 Net-Zero Goal

Climate change is the defining crisis of our time.

While Australia has recently committed to a net-zero emissions plan for 2050 and pledged half a billion dollars to help the Pacific and Southeast Asia address the climate crisis, it’s not enough. Australia has supplied less than 20% of its “fair share” to the climate finance plan it committed to in 2009. At the same time, to limit global warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, a far more ambitious net-zero emissions goal is required. 

Global Citizen is calling for Australian leaders to commit to a bold plan to reach 74% emissions reductions by 2030 to ensure Australian climate action begins now, not later, so the worst effects of climate change might be avoided, especially among Pacific communities.

5. New Funding for Girls' Education

Adolescent girls hold the key to breaking the cycle of extreme poverty, making investments for their future both the morally right and economically wise thing to do. Global Citizen believes wealthy nations, including Australia, must uplift teenage girls with critical investments in their education right now. 

Education Cannot Wait (ECW) is the world’s leading organisation dedicated to addressing education in emergencies. 

The organisation is currently seeking new funds for the three years of 2023 to 2026. With enough money, the organisation says it could ensure 10 million more children in at least 25 crisis-affected countries get the education they desperately need. Not only does the organisation focus on education, ECW also ensures students, especially girls, have access to healthy food, clean water and appropriate hygiene facilities. 

Australia should pledge $32 million to ECW at its September replenishment. 

Global Citizen Explains

Demand Equity

5 Things Australia's Next Government Can Do Right Now to Help End Extreme Poverty

By Madeleine Keck