Many people often ask me why I am so passionate about seeing an end to extreme poverty. The answer is quite complex but the bones of it is that I have been brought up believing that everyone in the world is equal. Regardless of where you are from or your religious background, we should all be entitled to the basics in life. To me, the basics are clean drinking water, food, basic healthcare and access to education – I like to call them “the four essentials”. While the number of children that die before their fifth birthday has halved since 1990 to 17,000 a day, many of these children are still dying from preventable diseases. I can’t just sit around and not do something about it.
So I decided to step up and take action by undertaking awareness raising campaigns to draw attention to the issue. In 2012, I cycled across Australia and in 2013, I spent 5 months walking from Perth to Sydney bouncing an Aussie Rules football. During these trips, I spoke to school children and Members of Parliament, educating them on how far we have come in alleviating extreme poverty and how we can all do our little bit to make the world a fairer place for all.
In June 2016, I will start my biggest campaign yet and hopefully my biggest adventure. I will walk across Africa and in doing so, continue to raise awareness for global poverty. The walk has several aims:
- I will take you all on the journey with me through a series of videos and blogs to share my experiences and highlight some of the causes of poverty and how these are being overcome through community driven, sustainable projects.
- I will also be doing the walk living under the poverty line of $1.25 a day to put myself in their shoes for the two and a half months to highlight how difficult it is to survive on so little.
- I will be raising $15,000 for each of my four Charity Partners to support the fantastic work that they do throughout Africa.
- And most importantly, I am encouraging people to take the pledge to give 1% of their income to one of our four Charity Partners – Oxfam, The Fred Hollows Foundation, CARE and Caritas Australia – who are doing a fantastic job in bringing hope to the world’s poor.
Why is the pledge important?
The current global economic situation illustrates why more work needs to be done to do our fair share. In the next 12 months, the richest 1% of people in the world will own 99% of the global wealth. These gloomy statistics often make me think how much do we need to have before we realise it’s time to help someone who has nothing? We regularly hear the Australian Government argue that we need to increase our standard of living despite the fact that in 2014, Australians as a median were the wealthiest in the world (and still are!). Furthermore, our Government has made significant cuts to foreign aid over the last few years and ironically we are the third largest recipient of our own foreign aid.
To put things in perspective, recently the United Kingdom reached a foreign aid budget of 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI) whilst Australia is severely lagging behind, dropping to just 0.22% in the next few years. Moreover, if you consider the proportional size of the two economies, it should be the other way around. I don’t mean to condemn Australia and it is unrealistic to expect the country to be a front runner in the fight against extreme poverty, but these are the facts and there is no excuse for not doing our fair share. We should be helping out our less prosperous neighbours who often, through no fault of their own, are born into these appalling conditions.
These are just some of the issues that I will be covering in my blogs and speeches over the next 12 months. I will write regular blogs and some of them will challenge you to think long and hard about yourself and what you stand for as a human being. So please, follow my journey and start to think about how you too can help to make the world a better place.