4 April 2014


 Budgets reflect the priorities and aspirations of the governments and nations that prepare them. Budgets weigh up which issues and concerns will receive public funds, and how much they will receive, and which issues will be left aside.

The budget makes choices about spending public money, so every interested citizen and group has the right to express their view about how that money should be used.

The recently elected Australian Government is due to deliver its first budget in May. A reshaping of Australia’s overseas aid program has already been signalled - the cutting $4.5 billion from the budget over the next four years, and pushing for more "aid for trade". However, not all the elements and details about what the Government intends are clear.

It is also not clear what other areas of aid – such as health, education, or water and sanitation – will be de-emphasised to make room for the change.

The Government has also signalled the budget constraints it intends to apply to aid (holding aid to roughly $5 billion annually with no real growth over the next four years). This would seem to be a grave breach of the Government's own commitments to increase aid to 0.5% of Gross National Income as a stepping-stone on the way to meeting the long-standing international aid target of 0.7% GNI. In contrast the United Kingdom recently became the first of the world’s richest large nations to hit the internationally agreed target of spending 0.7 percent of national income on development aid thus joining a group of smaller wealthy countries that have already met or exceeded it: Sweden, Norway, Luxembourg, Denmark and the Netherlands

Your are invited to visit the Micah Challenge website to see how you can help to ensure Australia commits to a generous and effective aid program, focused on tackling poverty.


Presently children as young as 12 years old are picking cocoa in West Africa to make the chocolate we eat. Some of these children are trafficked.  Most are forced to pick cocoa from an early age for minimal or no wages, for long hours, in dangerous working conditions, without any possibility of attending school.  Most of these children have never tasted chocolate. 

It is estimated that there are at least 800,000 children working in the cocoa industry at present:  5-10% of these have been trafficked. 

In Australia to ensure that the chocolate you buy has been produced in an ethical manner, look for the following labels: Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance or UTZ. 

So spread the word, talk to the manager at your local supermarkets about slavery-free chocolate and learn more about this issue from the ACRATH website,  the slavery-free-chocolate facebook page or here


No one on the planet will be untouched by the damaging effects of global warming in coming decades, said Dr Rajendra Pachauri the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) after the release of the world’s most comprehensive climate change study to date.

The study was compiled by more than 300 authors from 70 different countries with contributions from thousands of global experts.

Violent conflicts, food shortages and infrastructure damage were also forecast to become more prevalent over coming decades, while a growing number of animals and marine species will face increased risk of extinction. Noting that the effects of climate change are already occurring on all continents and across the oceans, the report states that the world is largely ill-prepared for risks from a changing climate. The report also concludes that there are opportunities to respond to such risks, though the risks will be difficult to manage with high levels of warming.

The release of the IPCC report coincided with a visit to the national capital, Canberra, by faith leaders across a range of religious traditions to speak with one voice about the nation's approach to climate change. The leaders noted that the IPCC report outlined the deepening environmental crisis in painstaking detail and they called for a rejection of an attitude that seeks maximum individual or national advantage, and a willingness to contribute to a common good which is accessible to and benefits all.

They further noted that the overwhelming body of scientific opinion confirms that exploitative human behaviour is now not only threatening life options for future generations, but is already causing sufficient change as to threaten the ecological diversity upon which life depends and increasing the poverty cycle for those least advantaged in the global family.

Th consequences for failing to address climate change in Australia are dire.

To add your voice to those demanding action visit the Get-Up website (for Australian readers) or the Climate Reality Project website


Palm Sunday has a proud history of mass mobilisation for peace and justice. On Sun April 13th, thousands of Australians -- people from community organisations, faith groups, advocacy organisations, unions, local businesses, schools, universities, will stage a peaceful march for justice for refugees and asylum seekers in capital cities and other centres around Australia. Click here for more details.

It is a chance to send a message that Australians want asylum seekers treated fairly and with compassion.

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