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Voices raised for justice

Ben Webb, Joanne Lee, Benton Wecker, Senator Claire Moore,and Gary Truloff join the toilet queue in Canberra. Photo courtesy of Ben Webb
OVER TWO hundred Christians gathered in Canberra from 17-20 September to share their concern for the poor with the nation’s political leaders.

The annual Voices for Justice gathering, an initiative of Micah Challenge Australia, saw Christians from all over the country speaking directly to politicians about achieving Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets.

Two Queensland Uniting Church members present were Andrew Johnson, World Vision Church partnerships team member, and Rev Ben Webb, minister with St Paul’s Uniting Church in Stafford, Brisbane.

Mr Webb was inspired by last year’s event and is particularly concerned with the high rate of global infant mortality.

“An estimated 8.1 million children under five years of age will die this year, mostly from easily preventable causes,” he said.

“Approximately 25 per cent of those child deaths could be avoided if we just invested money in improving sanitation in poor

“The Micah Challenge campaign gave me the tools I need to join with others in calling for change.

“I went to Canberra because I believe that in a democracy it is up to us to make sure our leaders are listening and acting.”

Mr Webb requested a private meeting with his local member, Wayne Swan MP, Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer, to tell
him the people of Stafford care about their global neighbours.

During the gathering the group created the world’s longest toilet queue to raise awareness of the importance of adequate clean water and sanitation.

Mr Johnson said water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) is a key target in MDG 7, which looks into environmental sustainability.

“Water and sanitation are crucial to saving the lives of children and mothers in particular,” he said.

“Voices for Justice is unique in gathering ordinary Christians together in Canberra to share their heart for the poor with our
political leaders.”

Micah Challenge National Coordinator, John Beckett, saidthat in order to achieve change, the Australian Government and
the Opposition need to keeptheir bi-partisan commitment to increase Australia’s aid budget to 0.5 per cent of our national
income by 2015.

The campaign also urgedleaders to provide a timetable forwhen and how they will reach the International Aid Target of 0.7
per cent.

Currently, Australia’s aid contribution is just 0.35% GNI,well short of other nations.

Mr Beckett said gatherings like Voices for Justice really do make a difference.

“The message we get from politicians is that this kindof grassroots lobbying really does make an impact on them personally,” he said.

“We know that it’s also makinga huge difference in the lives ofthe world’s poorest people.”

Micah Challenge is a globalmovement of aid and developmentagencies, churches, schools, groups and individuals who wantto deepen their engagement withpoor communities and influenceworld leaders to meet their commitments to the MillenniumDevelopment Goals.

UnitingWorld is part of the Micah Challenge coalition.

For more information visit www.micahchallenge.org.au

Photo : Ben Webb, Joanne Lee, Benton Wecker, Senator Claire Moore,and Gary Truloff join the toilet queue in Canberra. Photo courtesy of Ben Webb