Australian church leaders to lobby politicians on aid

Australian church leaders to lobby politicians on aid

Australian national church leaders are joining with global campaigners Micah Challenge to lobby federal politicians on June 22, seeking an increase in Australia’s overseas aid budget for maternal health, child immunisation and sanitation programs to reduce poverty.

Micah Challenge National Coordinator John Beckett told ENInews it is the largest meeting between denominational representatives and political leaders to discuss aid.

“It’s incredibly heartening to see so many groups who are willing to come together to speak up for justice for the poorest people in our world … There is so much power in this kind of unity in the Body of Christ. There is such strength in our collective voice in the political sphere on this issue,” he said.

The leaders, representing Baptist, Uniting Church, Churches of Christ, Salvation Army and Anglican, among others, will hold about 30 meetings with politicians, including Foreign Affairs Minister Kevin Rudd, Shadow (opposition) Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop and officials from the office of Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Micah Challenge, which is based in London, is a “global coalition of Christians holding governments accountable for their promise to halve extreme poverty by 2015” in support of the UN’s eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), according to its website.

The clergy will lobby for an increase in the level of aid allocated to sanitation, hygiene and water to poorer countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Australia currently contributes 0.35 per cent of gross national income (GNI) to global development and the government has pledged to lift that to 0.5 per cent by 2015.

Beckett told ENInews that the leaders plan not only to pressure the government to “stick to what they have pledged,” but to lobby for an increase, to further reduce poverty. “We believe we can do it. It’s an unselfish message. We are just being faithful in the face of injustice.”

By David Crampton, Ecumenical News International

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