People in Norway have reversed a proposal to cut two thirds of funding to NGOs that deliver Norwegian aid.
The Norwegian Government proposed to cut aid to fund domestic costs associated with hosting refugees. But support for aid triumphed, and the people of Norway powerfully checked the disturbing trend of aid cuts in the EU.
Meanwhile, in Australia, remember when the Government cut aid to fund offshore detention in 2012? Imagine if enough Australians had spoken out and the government reversed its decision!
Sadly, cruelty triumphed over compassion and the Government made itself the third largest recipient of its own aid program.
No one likes to be on the losing side. But let’s face it, we’ve been the losers a few times now. Both major parties have cut aid. Aid is at the lowest level since records began. Many of us feel tired. Even worse: we feel disempowered.
But things are shifting. It might be hard to see, but the aid movement in Norway is a picture of what the Australian aid movement could be – and is becoming.
It might just be me, but I don’t feel like as much of a loser as I did six months ago! It might just be me, but I’ve noticed that a ripple of hope has crept into Australians’ hearts. The belief that we can and must restore Australian aid is rising.
Maybe it’s because we’re starting to see ourselves in a new story. Journalists are replacing the term ‘foreign aid’ with ‘Australian aid’. Aid is a part of us, not just something that exists far away from our lives. We’re changing aid from being someone else’s problem to one of our nation’s proudest achievements.
Maybe it’s because aid organisations are getting better at working together – not only on short-term mobilisations, but on long-term strategy, too! This is rare. But it’s so vital to the deep impact of the Campaign for Australian Aid.
Maybe it’s because instead of giving up, volunteers have committed to bringing communities together over an issue they care about. Volunteers have formed campaign teams in the ten most important electorates in Australia. They are organising events, engaging MPs and knocking on doors to start conversations about Australian Aid. They are speaking to media and building relationships with community groups. They are building our movement, brick by brick.
It’s frustrating when the Government cuts aid. But we should keep going because it’s worth it when another girl gets the chance to go to school because of Australian Aid. It’s worth it when another child makes it to their fifth birthday. It’s worth it when people get the chance to thrive.
So cheers to you, supporters of Australian Aid! Thank you for all that you’re doing. We might still be on the losing team (for now), but Australians have always done well starting as the underdogs. Don’t give up. We’re getting there, and with the progress we’ve made this year it’s plain to see we’re on to something.