I grew up in a working-class, small town family. Mum cleaned other people’s homes, then worked (often double shifts) at KFC for 20 years. Mum would often get home at 3am, an hour before Dad got up to work at the meat works he’s worked at for 47 years. Mum now works at the meat works too; physically tough work.
Like too many families, our lives were touched by alcoholism, violence, drugs and mental health issues. Our family of six lived paycheck to paycheck.
Yet in many ways, we were incredibly lucky. My parents had jobs. Our home was full of love. Our neighbours looked out for each other. We had free health care and went to good public schools.
My parents worked hard to give us a better life. They didn’t solely care about this week’s power and food bill, they cared about us going to school, having opportunities, and living happy lives.
I’ve just experienced my two-year anniversary leading the Campaign for Australian Aid and I’ve heard so many stories from our aid and development member NGOs that are similar – people all over the world with the same hopes and dreams for their children. The level of poverty is more extreme, the needs more basic, the barriers much greater – and yet people often care most about educational opportunities for their children so that their children can have the best shot at a better future.
I tell this story because globally, we’re seeing efforts to divide people against each other. The Trump victory that rocked the USA and the world, the Brexit win and even the rise of Pauline Hanson are signs of a retreat from internationalism and towards nationalism and isolationism. Instead of a politics that seeks justice everywhere for everyone, that seeks to unite different struggles and work together on fixing them in ways that appeal to our common humanity, we’re seeing a politics that divides people. Instead of challenging the 1%, the powerful corporates and billionaires, we’re being encouraged to turn against and blame each other.
George Monbiot recently wrote that politics has failed through a lack of competing narratives and suggests that we must tell a new story – a story of what it is to be a human in the 21st Century. And at the heart of that new story is that human beings are remarkably social and remarkably unselfish.
We’re currently reviewing the past two years of the Campaign for Australian Aid and planning, given our changed political environment, for the future.
In the next few weeks, we will update you on our aims for the next three years and our next major initiative – we’re pretty excited about it!
We want to respond to this great challenge of our time by uniting with others who care to tell a new story and to do justice together.
Thank you for being part of this movement for an Australia that is part of the solution to our global challenges, not an Australia that is part of the problem.
Because it’s not about us. It’s about ALL of us.
Tony Milne, Campaign Director