Words from Louise
Hi, I’m Louise. I’m a recent university graduate and a volunteer at Act for Peace. For the last 5 weeks I have been working as a street campaigner, collecting signatures for the “PM: Don’t Cut Aid” campaign.
So, why am I doing this?
The Australian government is planning to cut out $4.5 billion dollars over the next 4 years from our foreign aid budget. As a result, approximately 450, 000 people who could have otherwise been saved may lose their lives!
As an Australian I want my representative government to keep the promises they’ve made and make wise decisions for Australia. I also think this budget cut is an injustice and this is why I am willing to volunteer for the campaign. If Australia, a wealthy country, doesn’t support people who need help, who will?
In 2000, Australia and other wealthy countries signed a commitment to spend 0.5% (50 cents out of $100 – not much) of their gross national income (GNI) on international aid. Currently, we are not meeting that commitment and are spending 0.37% instead of keeping our promise. This is despite the fact that Australia is the fifth-richest country per capita in the world. This portrays Australia negatively and in my opinion negatively affects foreign relations.
The goal of the campaign is to gather enough signatures to present to MPs so that we can show Parliament that Australia does not support this cut. In this way we can encourage Parliament to postpone or cancel the cuts as they have done before.
What I learnt along the way…
Additional to raising awareness of the issue and getting signatures for the campaign, I wanted to experience working for a charity organisation, to work on campaigns or projects that create positive social change and contribute and to expand on the skills and knowledge I had. Through these experiences, I wanted to learn as much as I could about charity organisations, what they are doing as a result of the issues we face in our world today (especially in the developing world) and decide whether having a career in the not-for-profit sector is what I want to do.
Campaigning with a group of volunteers to people in the streets of Sydney has made me more aware of people’s opinions and stance on this issue and their opinion on the Australian government and its actions. I have had many interesting conversations with a diverse range of people and have been able to expand the confidence and interpersonal skills I have.
Four weeks into the campaign I can assuredly say that I have learnt a lot and gained a lot of skills working in a charity organisation with volunteers. I now know more about the work Act for Peace does and how they go about creating positive social changes. In the campaign I have had the privilege of being a volunteer recruiter and campaign coordinator where I have encountered challenges and have discovered ways to overcome them and hence expand my repertoire of skills that will be useful to have in the workforce. Lastly, working with a group of volunteers is never easy but you learn so much together and work hard together towards a single goal which is rewarding in itself.
I highly recommend volunteering in our campaign as you get and give so much good out of the experience within the not-for-profit sector and learn so much for free. It’s a valuable experience that everyone should get involved with at least once in their lifetime.
I really hope our campaign is able to reach 2000 signatures. It’s a big challenge but I know with persistence and team work, it’s possible. But at the end of the day it’s the experience - the skills you gain, the partnerships, working as a team and growing together as a group that are valuable and worth the time to invest in with like-minded people.
More ways to take action
Help keep families at risk from landslides safe by providing training in disaster risk reduction in schools. Training helps children to identify risks and warning signs of landslides, and teaches them how to keep safe if one happens.
Take the Act for Peace Ration Challenge and eat the same rations as a Syrian refugee during Refugee Week (19-26 June 2016). Raise money to support refugees who have lost everything, and challenge perspectives – including your own.
Right now, thousands of innocent people are fleeing Syria every day to protect their families from bloodshed, violence and death. We need your support to provide emergency relief packs to the families fleeing in Syria.