Gwen Palmer is on her way to Canberra for the Make Poverty History road trip.
Gwen Palmer is on her way to Canberra for the Make Poverty History road trip.

The road to ending poverty

Two local girls will be taking part in a road trip to Canberra to try to convince our political leaders that we should increase our overseas aid contribution to 0.7% of Gross National Income (GNI). That’s 70 cents in every $100, and Australia is one of the few developed countries not committed to reaching that goal. (Our current rate is about 0.34%, or $3.8 billion per annum).

Sixteen-year-old Kyogle High student Gwen Palmer and 18-year-old Kira Zelandonii will join 998 other young Australians for the Make Poverty History road trip. They will be coming from all over the country, stopping along the way to talk to people and raise the profile of the issue.

Nineteen per cent of the world’s population is considered to be living in extreme poverty, but that figure has dropped considerably (from 42%) in the past 20 years.

“In just one generation we’ve more than halved global poverty – this shows how success is possible,” Kira said.

But Gwen said there was “unwillingness from the federal government to take this on as a serious issue” and hopes the road trip can put the spotlight back on the Millennium Development Goals, which include halving extreme poverty in the world and halting the spread of AIDS by 2015.

“We’ve got to get this back on the public agenda,” Gwen said. “This is about real people. I’ve had all these opportunities in my life – going to school, learning all these things – and I’d like everybody to be able to have those opportunities.”

The girls will leave from Brisbane this weekend and be on the road for about week before arriving in Canberra for a summit from May 12 to 14. For more info, go to www.theroadtrip.com.au


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