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Terry Robb from Oxfam Australia

Insight into making poverty history

Submitted 3/20/2006 By Lindy Views 10643 Comments 0 Updated 4/24/2006

How did the Make Poverty History campaign come about?

Make Poverty History is part of a Global Call to Action Against Poverty that is happening in over 70 countries around the world. It came about through a number of organisations teaming up together with the belief that if we work together we can Make Poverty History. Now there are thousands of organisations and millions of supporters involved. In Australia there are over 50 organisations involved.

What does it aim to achieve?

Ultimately we want to Make Poverty History! To do that we need fairer trade rules, more and better government aid and debt relief for poor nations.

Every three seconds a child dies of needless poverty, which is crazy. We are now in a situation where, as a world, we have the money, the science and the medicine to end poverty and prevent this happening. It is now a matter of our leaders having the will to do the right things; so it’s very important that the community gets involved and shows our leaders that we care.

What is the significance of the white wristband?

The white wristband is a symbol of the campaign. It is a simple symbol, with a powerful message. By wearing the wristband you can show our leaders, and others, that you care about making poverty history. So far over 800,000 Australians have a wristband which sends a very strong message to our government.

Do you think the campaign has been successful so far?

In many ways it has been very successful. In July 2005, at the G8, the leaders of the world's richest nations announced a doubling of aid including an extra $25 billion to Africa and canceling the debt owed by 18 of the world's poorest countries.

And at the UN World Summit in September 2005 our Prime Minister announced a large increase in Australia's aid budget - from $2.5 billion to $4 billion per year by 2010.

Also the fact that so many people have gotten involved in so many ways and awareness of poverty has increased has been a major success of the campaign.

But while we’ve had some major successes, they are only a first step. Our leaders can, and should, do much more. Amongst a need for more aid and debt relief, we have negotiations taking place at World Trade Organisation for global trade rules. We need to keep the pressure on to make sure some good decisions are made to make trade rules work for the poor.

How did you get involved with Oxfam?

I’ve been working here about two and a half years. I started off working in events and marketing which came about from my study in Commerce and my work coordinating volunteer programs overseas. I then got involved in campaigns on a volunteer basis and then ended up moving jobs to the Campaigns Unit.

What is your favourite part of being involved in community campaigns?

I love working on issues that matter to me. I like the fact that I get to work with great people and be creative. I also love working with school groups and seeing the creative ways in which people get involved in a campaign.

What is the hardest part of your job?

It can get pretty busy and stressful sometimes. But I don’t really mind that. It keeps me out of trouble!

Do you have any advice for other young people? How can they get involved in issues such as global poverty?

It’s been said before, but it's true our youth are the future leaders of the world. My advice would be fight for what you believe in, do it your way (big or small) and don’t give up! Campaigning is not easy and you don’t always win but change is a process that involves a lot of small steps and every time you do something to show you care you’re taking one of those steps.

Also Oxfam Australia are developing a campaign network for young people aged 14-18. We'd love you to get involved - so email us at for more info.