Monday, 31 May 2010

20 Good Reasons

I'm 20 today!

A lot of people have said "oh, how awesome, you're not a teenager anymore!" Maybe it's just me, but I don't consider not being a teenager any more a big deal. Maybe this is because a friend explained to me last birthday that I was beginning my 20th year when I turned 19, so I technically wasn't a teenager any more.

Being 20 is kind of exciting though, isn't it - sounds older and more mature, though I'm not going to go on and on about how "old" I am now. Really I still feel quite young (I know I AM, I mean comparatively to my peers) as there are a lot of college kids in second or even first year who are older than me, so this helps keep things in perspective.

We young people (mostly teenagers, I guess) put a ridiculous amount of emphasis on age (omg! you're 20! soooo old! get out the dentures!).

Besides: teenager is just a state of mind.

As Sara put it: "who am I kidding, we'll be up to the same mischief at 90 as we were at 19!" We sure will! :)

To celebrate, I'm listing 20 reasons to smile:
  1. going out for dinner with friends last night. that night was 20 reasons in itself.
  2. chocolate cake.
  3. my friends performing 'You Belong With Me' for my birthday (on piano, bass, electric guitar and voice). isn't that the greatest present ever??
  4. singing along to my favourite Glee songs (which is pretty much all of them).
  5. I finish exams in less than 2 weeks.
  6. my grandmother's coming to visit!
  7. it turns out I look pretty good without hair.
  8. I adjudicated 7 regions in Round 2 and earned $400. score.
  9. writing a comparison between a Disney movie and the original fairy tale for my Medieval literature essay.
  10. only one semester until I graduate!
  11. keeping in touch with my Make Poverty History Road Trip pals
  12. a hot milo on a cold, cloudy Melbourne day.
  13. helping out prep kids with their Monday 9am PE class at the local primary school.
  14. Il Gambero reopened! rejoice, for it's better than ever.
  15. speaking to a certain Indian friend last night at exactly 12am :)
  16. a friend taking a one hour train ride (one way) into the city just for dinner with me.
  17. being on the committee of a student-for-students philanthropy group on campus.
  18. a job interview (last week). hush hush until I know whether I got it!
  19. all manner of pink. stationery. teddy bear. toe socks. love.
  20. fresh flowers in a vase on my desk.


PS: I do realise that someone has atrociously massacred the word disappointed up there. However, the sentiment remains the same.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Don't Dream It's Over

On Saturday I embarked on the week long Make Poverty History Road Trip with about 300 other young people from my state (Victoria).

We're going around the state - there are three routes, ours is from Melbourne through Healesville (yesterday), Seymour (today), Wangaratta (tomorrow) to all converge on Canberra, all 1000 of us from around Australia, on Wednesday to Friday, for the Make Poverty History summit.

On the way, we're raising awareness about Australia's committments to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which they are not curretly meeting by half. We want to obligate the Government to meet these goals in terms of aid - to raise the percentage given from the current 0.34 (Labour has committed to 0.5 by 2015, an increase achieved by the previous roadtrip in '07) to 0.7 by 2015, which is what they agreed to in 2000.

To do this, we're collecting 40,000+ signatures from around the country, from every state in support of the Act to End Poverty, by Thursday, so that we can present it in Parliament with the support of some MPs, to show that the Australian people care about poverty, that they want to see change, that they demand more and better aid be given so that we can halve global poverty by 2015.

The Act to End Poverty has three ambitions: for Australia to give more aid (0.7%), to give better aid (ie make the aid process more effective) and to show greater leadership in the global arena in terms of giving aid and ending poverty.

What we're asking for is:
- for Ausaid to become a seperate department with its own cabinet minister, as it is currently being run as part of DFAT (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) which means diplomatic interests are comprmosing our ability to direct aid where it's needed
- better accountability and transparency, so that we know where our money is going, and what it's going towards
- more aid directed towards the poorest countries in our region
- climate change assistance is additional to 0.7% foreign aid  
- a Robin Hood tax, 0.05% levy on international currency transactions, which could generate up to $40 billion a year 
- for Kevin Rudd and/or TonyAbbott to commit to attending the UN High Level meeting on the MDGs later this year

In just three days of campaigning - of talking to people on the streets, of door knocks, of electoral forums and talking to schools, we've collected more than 30,000 signatures. How incredible is that?! It just goes to show - and this is our aim - that the Australian people really care about poverty, about how much aid Australia can and should give, and that we have an obligation not only to our promises but to others worse off. The response has been overwhelming, and so positive; sure there have been rejections, and people who don't agree with us, but mostly people have shown nothing but support. 

I'm not a Conservative in any way - we all know that! - but this is not a partisan issue. It's more important than politics. 

Did you know that Australia's aid effort has wiped out polio in the Pacific  region? It just goes to show that we really can make a difference. We are the first generation who have the capacity and the resources to END global poverty.  

But we've made progress. 20 years ago, 42% of the world lived in extreme poverty. Today that number is down to 20% - more than halved.How AMAZING is that? But that's still 1.4 BILLION people who live on less than $1.25 (US) a day, who don't have enough to eat, no access to clean drinking water or adequate health services, education, sanitation, clothing and shelter.

If we can halve it, we can eradicate it. 200 years ago, who could have imagined that we'd have eradicated slavery, flown planes or landed on the moon? We've come so far, and still have further to go.

Australia was recently ranked the 8th richest country out of the 33 developed nations. We've fared the best from the recent GFC. We have the lowest government debt of all the OECD donor nations. And yet our aid level ranks 16th out of 23 of the world's richest nations. Sweden, Norway and Luxemborg are all giving 1% (!!!) of their GNI, while Denmark and the Netherlands are giving more than 0.8%. The UK just committed in legislation to 0.7%.

If you care about poverty, equality, justice, education, empowerment, human rights and our moral obligation, or you just want the Australian government to live up to their promise, please sign the act and tell all your friends.