Listen: Tim Costello chats to Laura Bennett about the End COVID For All campaign
An army of Australia’s major aid agencies, faith groups and educational institutions, backed by several major celebrities, have joined a campaign calling on the Australian government to increase its support for our “international neighbours” in the COVID-19 crisis.
The campaign, called “End Covid For All”, is led by justice activist Tim Costello, executive director of Micah Australia, and has been launched to coincide with World Humanitarian Day on Wednesday August 19.
It calls on everyday Australians to ‘sign the pledge’ – a petition that’s amassed over 14,700 signatories at the time of writing.
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High profile supporters include former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Hillsong pastor Bobbie Houston, former Australian of the Year and epidemiologist Professor Fiona Stanley, and media identities such as Dr Karl Kruszelnick, Carrie Bickmore, Adam Liaw, Mel Doyle, Benjamin Law, Dr Susan Carland, and comedian Sammy J.
In recent years, Australia’s international aid budget has been steadily decreasing, and Micah Australia has long been advocating for this to change.
The campaign calls on Australia to live up to its national identity by “offering a helping hand to all our neighbours around the world”, saying, “It’d be un-Australian not to”.
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Now, COVID-19 is forcing already-disadvantaged nations into even further crisis. The campaign shines a spotlight on nations that are struggling such as India, Bangladesh, Brazil, Yemen, and small Pacific nations such as Timor-Leste, Fiji and Papua New Guinea.
It calls on Australia to live up to its national identity by “offering a helping hand to all our neighbours around the world” – capitalising on a phrase utilized at times by Prime Minister Scott Morrison himself: “It’d be un-Australian not to”.
Healthcare Systems Close to Collapse
Micah Challenge says that in the worst-hit nations, healthcare systems are on the verge of collapse due to COVID-19.
“Hundreds of doctors and nurses have died from COVID-19 due to shortages in personal protective equipment and overwork,” the campaign video says. “In many densely populated cities, patients queue for hours, many without being seen.
“ICUs are being forced to close their doors, and morgues are over-capacity.
“With 75 percent of people in the least-developed countries lacking access to clean water and soap, the primary means of infection prevention, the odds are not on their side. Without our help, COVID-19 could push over 70 million people into extreme poverty.”
End Covid For All calls for a three-pronged solution, with the following goals:
- Protect the World’s Most Vulnerable: Increase Australia’s support for healthcare programs in some of the most disadvantaged and worst-hit parts of the world.
- Strengthening Health Systems: Donating testing kits and medical equipment to vulnerable nations, and making health care more accessible to the marginalised and disabled in these areas.
- Kick Start Economic Recovery: Leading the way in the “safe, staged resumption of regional economic ties”, including low-cost loans and a freeze on debt interest payments for Pacific nations.
It urges the government to drastically build on the modicum of good work that has already been done, such as providing personal protective equipment for healthcare workers in Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste, and Fiji.
Organisations Supporting the Campaign
So far 162 organisations have added their weight to the cause.
- Many of Australia’s leading aid and justice organisations including Micah (leading the campaign), World Vision, Global Citizen, Tear Australia, Care Australia, CBM, Save the Children, Opportunity International, Childfund, Plan International, Oxfam, Unicef, International Justice Mission, Wesley Mission, Amnesty International and The Fred Hollows Foundation;
- Medical groups like Australian Doctors International, Global Health Alliance Australia and the New South Wales Nurses And Midwives’ Association;
- Charitable corporates like the Thankyou Group;
- Major churches, denominational bodies and faith-based aid agencies – including Hillsong Church, Australian Christian Churches, Caritas, UnitingWorld, Baptist World Aid, Anglican Overseas Aid, Baptist World Aid, ACCI Relief, YWAM Medical Ships, Planetshakers Church, the Uniting Church in Australia, the Christian Reformed Churches, and Islamic Relief Australia;
- Educational bodies such as The University Of Melbourne, University Of Sydney’s Faculty Of Medicine And Health and the NSW Teacher’s Federation;
- International community development and care groups such as Australian International Development Network, Australian Volunteers Program, and the Refugee Council Of Australia.
Australians are being to add their voice to the campaign by:
- Signing the pledge as an individual
- Adding their organisation to the list of supporters
- Using the ‘End COVID For All’ virtual face mask on their social media.
- Posting about their support on social media using the hashtag, #EndCOVIDForAll