‘The purpose of foreign aid is to end the need for its existence’
Foreign aid is defined as money, food, or other resources given or lent by one country to another. It is a part of most nations budget, but it is often misrepresented or forgotten. Politicians urge money to be used towards domestic interests rather than supporting international matters, resulting in a decrease in foreign aid investment.
Prioritising domestic matters is important, I don’t dispute that. We need to use money in our budget to focus on our own country and ensure its stability before helping others. However, Australia and many other developed nations fail to contribute to international concerns adequately.
A vital example of this is in the refugee crisis. Australia refuses to significantly increase its refugee intake for a few reasons, which once boiled down, revolve around national security and misunderstanding about refugees. These concerns are mostly irrelevant, however; I will leave that for now. Regardless, if Australia doesn’t want to accept refugees, the only other option to help solve the problem is through increasing its foreign aid spending. This can be achieved through either providing financial assistance to nations currently struggling with the load of increased refugees or working with non-governmental organisations to assist in creating services to support refugees.
The numbers regarding Australia’s foreign aid is shocking. On average, Australians think we invest 16% in foreign aid, and believe that we should be spending something closer to 12%. In reality, Australia spends just 0.21% of our gross national income. This is severely low and highlights the misrepresentation of foreign aid through the media, where people overestimate the amount of foreign aid we invest. Moreover, in comparison to other nations such as Sweden (1.1%) and the United Kingdom (0.7%), Australia is lagging behind.
Foreign aid spending must be increased because it has a life-changing impact on developing nations around the world. Australian aid resulted in a 25% increase in the number of trained midwives in Fiji, provided safe access to water for 87,000 people in Sri Lanka and allowed more than 2.5 million children to enrol in school in Afghanistan. It also assists in enabling organisations such as World Vision to provide further services and start new projects to widen their reach to communities in need.
Today’s global challenges require political solutions. Foreign aid is one-way governments can assist in poverty reduction and other challenges such as disease, humanitarian crises, conflict, terrorism and climate change.
If nothing else, foreign aid is about justifying the preposterous wealth of the society that we live in. Australians enjoy an incredibly high standard of living, with a relative abundance of wealth, particularly when compared to surrounding countries. As a free and democratic society, we have an obligation to be concerned with the dignity of other human beings. This is an application of the values that bind us together as a polity.
That is why we must increase our foreign aid spending.
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