Hear from Tracey Tessitore, Caritas Australia’s Diocesan Director for Adelaide about advocating for the global poor
21 Sep 22
As the representative of Caritas Australia in Adelaide, I was lucky to be invited to join forty women advocating together on the Help Fight Famine Campaign at Parliament House on 7 September.
We were at Parliament House to ask the Australian Government to urgently respond to the dire food crisis unfolding across the world.
The hunger crisis is currently threatening almost 50 million lives in 45 countries. This hunger crisis means that almost 50 million people are facing an extreme level of hunger – this is much worse than just missing a meal or two, this is ongoing, consistent hunger and lack of access to food. There are so many factors that go into a crisis such as this. You can learn more here about what’s contributing to the global food crisis.
Almost 8 million children are currently at risk of death unless they receive immediate food and care. We must do more.
Crises such as these require the best of humanity, which means responding to where the need is greatest. This is directly in line with the Catholic Social Teaching 'preferential option for the poor'. Famine in Africa has many causes and a long history, which you can read about here.
I was proud to be a member of the Micah Women Leaders delegation, an initiative of Micah Australia, joining women leaders from across the Australian Church to lobby the Government on these serious issues. Together, representing over twelve different denominations, we were there to advocate for the most vulnerable globally.
Our plight to the Government was that we must support countries on the brink of famine, no matter where they are. This is not only a moral imperative but also an important step to establish Australia as a good international citizen.
I joined three other amazing women leaders from the Uniting Church and a CEO from Ntegrity, a for-purpose agency supporting not-for-profit organisations grow goodness in the world in a lobbying group. We had the incredible opportunity to meet with The Hon Patrick Gorman, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister; Ms. Louise Miller-Frost, Member for Boothby; Mr. Tony Zappia, Member for Makin; and Senator the Hon. David Fawcett, Senator for South Australia.
We had serious conversations to impress upon them the severity and unprecedented scale of the current global hunger crisis. We believe that there is still hope if we act now.
As part of the coalition of community and humanitarian organisations to help fight famine we asked the government to commit to an urgent $150 million Famine Prevention Package in the October Federal budget. The Help Fight Famine coalition is leading this call for our leaders to take real action against hunger and famine. We also call upon our supporters to take up this fight and to get involved by emailing their local MP to help push this package through in October. You can read about it on the Caritas Help Fight Famine Page.
As part of our delegation, we were also able to share the very real story of Mali, a woman from a pastoralist community in southern Ethiopia which has been devasted by drought caused by four failed rainy seasons. Kirsty Robertson, Caritas Australia’s CEO, met Mali and many others like her on her recent visit to Ethiopia in July this year which can be seen in all of its vivid detail in Kirsty’s Stories from the field.
Mali is now forced to walk over 18 hours to get water, knowing that she has very little or even nothing to feed her children once she returns. These communities have been devastated by drought, crop failures, livestock deaths and now hunger.
With approximately 7 million children under 5 years acutely malnourished in Ethiopia and no signs of the drought easing, Mali and many others like her are heavily reliant on aid for survival in the coming months.
Ms. Amel Manyon, Uniting Church Minister in Adelaide from my lobby group, shared a similar story of the dire food situation in the refugee camp she just visited in Uganda where her people from South Sudan had sought refuge. This global hunger crisis is real, and it is impacting millions right now.
This experience was fascinating. I was able to see behind the curtains of how our government works, but I also got to join likeminded women and become a part of an advocacy movement trying to make the world a better place. It was a privilege to advocate for the most vulnerable globally, and I was encouraged to know all the MPs that we spoke to cared deeply, were grateful for our advocacy and wanted to help.