THREE young adults from Brisbane archdiocese had their voices heard in Canberra last month as part of the Micah Challenge conference “Voices for Justice”.
Logan deanery’s Victoria Laurenzi and Sean Scanlon, from Browns Plains and Rochedale parishes (respectively), were among the 230 participants as was Cate Simpson, who is a scientist from the Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Water and PhD candidate at the Australian National University.
Participants were able to speak directly to federal politicians about increasing aid to developing countries as part of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals.
“Voices for Justice focused on the need for Australia to reach the international aid target by increasing aid to 0.7 per cent of GNI (Gross National Income),” Cate said.
“The Rudd Government has committed to spending 0.5 per cent of GNI in aid by 2015, but this will fall short of what is needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
“Of the donor nations that give aid to the poorest nations, Australia ranks only 15th out of 22.”
The three “concerned Catholics” asked the Government to commit to the international aid target of 0.7 per cent of GNI by 2015 and to re-direct aid funding priorities towards basic health care like training for health workers, advice on breastfeeding and nutrition, and proper equipment.
“By increasing health aid to one billion over the next 3 years, Australia could help prevent over 240,000 child deaths and 26,000 maternal deaths,” Cate said.
Victoria and Sean spoke to several politicians including Federal Member for Rankin Craig Emerson and Federal Member for Forde Brett Raguse.
Sean, 21, said it was “great to have the power to influence them by being a ‘voice’ for those in developing countries who could not speak for themselves”.
“Even though we have people who are struggling in Australia we are fortunate that we are in a much better situation than people in developing countries which often lack sound governance and adequate infrastructure,” he said.
Victoria, 22, added her own perspective.
“Even though we are all being affected by the global financial crunch at the moment, and we do need to look after our own Australian people, there are people who live just a hop, skip and a jump away from us, such as in Papua New Guinea, who really are in a desperate situation, and who really need our help,” she said.
The pair was “surprised” by the “number of federal politicians who held deeply Christian views”.
In 2009, Sean and Victoria will make presentations about the UN Millennium Goals to other youth in the eight parishes of Logan deanery.
By doing so they “hope to be able to raise consciousness about, and concern for, the poor of the world”.
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