As the 2015 target date for the Millennium Development Goals approaches, Journey reports on a pre-election campaign by Christians to highlight the issue of Australian development aid.
The Movement to End Poverty is a sector-wide petition urging political leaders to fulfil their bipartisan promise to give 50 cents in every $100 of national income to tackle global poverty by 2016, rising to 70 cents by 2020.
The joint project allows members of the public to sign on at any participating organisation's website.
The initiative was launched on 14 March when up to 1000 young Australians and their politicians gathered in a giant map of the nation on the front lawns of Parliament House in Canberra, displaying electorate banners made to look like giant drop pins.
Micah Challenge Australia is a coalition endorsed by over 30 Christian agencies and mission groups including UnitingWorld.
Micah Challenge National Coordinator John Beckett says that the Movement to End Poverty petition will be a key tool used by Christian individuals, churches and agencies in Micah Challenge's new Finish the Race campaign.
Finish the Race will mobilise supporters to appeal to Australian politicians to prioritise Australia's commitment to the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a set of eight international targets intended to halve poverty by 2015.
"Our vision is to give every Christian in this country the opportunity to add their voice to our collective call for justice," says Mr Beckett.
"We hope to see hundreds of churches and individuals taking local action in every electorate across the country between April and July 2013.
"The Federal Government's recent decision to divert $375 million away from life-saving overseas programs in order to meet the domestic costs of processing asylum seekers highlights the precarious nature of the government's promises to the world's poor, says Mr Beckett.
The UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are a set of eight international targets formulated in 2000 by world leaders to halve poverty by 2015.
Progress since 1990: • 280 million fewer people living in extreme poverty
• 40 million more children in school
• four million more children survive each year
• four million people now receive HIV/AIDS treatment in developing countries.
• one billion people in extreme poverty
• 72 million children not in school
• 9 million children die each year
• 360 000 women die from complications of pregnancy and birth
• over 33 million people infected with HIV/AIDS; two million die each year
• half of the developing world lacks sanitation.
Photo : Anti-poverty advocates gather on the front lawns of Parliament House in Canberra in March to launch the Movement to End Poverty petition. Photo: Micah Challenge Australia