Beer slab donation not enough to make poverty history

Compared to money spent on Christmas, Caritas Australia chief Jack de Groot says that Australians can do a lot better to alleviate poverty than the $43 average donation - the price of a slab of beer - to development agencies in 2005.

In a Christmas statement, Catholic development NGO Caritas Australia says that this Christmas a working Australian will spend an estimated $856 on food and gifts - placing Australians amongst the most generous in the world when it comes to spending on Christmas.

Caritas also noted the growing support for the Make Poverty History campaign and the Australian government's increased commitment to development aid but asked, "Really though how generous are we?"

"While these commitments emphasise the support in the community to challenge international poverty," the statement said, "when compared with how much we spend on material goods and food at Christmas alone, we do not look so generous."

In 2006, the Australian government spent $150 per person on international aid which is the equivalent of a loaf of bread a week, Caritas says.

And Australians donations to of $871 million to international development agencies last year only come to $43 per person - the equivalent of a slab of beer or a kilo and a half of prawns, according to Caritas calculations.

"Australians are a very generous people" said Caritas Australia's CEO Jack de Groot, "but we can do a lot more in terms of alleviating poverty if we really commit to it."

"The great challenge for this generation that has so much wealth, is for the Australian public and our government to increase our commitment to alleviate and prevent poverty in our region and the world.

"A mere $150 per person is given by the government in aid - we can and should do much better. Our aid budget has increased but we still are falling well short of the target required to meet the [UN Millennium Development Goals]," said Mr de Groot.

"At Christmas time it is crucial to remember the true message of peace and justice that underpins this tradition", said Mr de Groot.

"Australians have a great history of supporting the underdog and the time really is right to commit to Make Poverty History.

"We encourage you to dig deep and support organisations like Caritas Australia that are working so hard to promote peace and justice throughout the world."

The Generous Aussie - not reflected in our commitment to the poor this Christmas (Caritas Australia, Media Release, 19/12/06)
Aussies urged to give more this Christmas (The Australian, 21/12/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Caritas Australia
Make Poverty History

21 Dec 2006