Thai cave rescue: This is how Australian aid can change the world
By Jody Lightfoot
Twenty Australians worked on the successful rescue operation. (AP: Tham Luang Rescue Operation Centre)
Australia’s contribution to the rescue of the young soccer team from the cave in Thailand reflects the role Australia should play in the world.
Aussie doctor and cave diver Richard Harris is a hero for his integral contribution to the rescue.
Dr Harris entered the caves each day during the operation to care for the boys’ health, guide them to safety, and was reportedly the last person to leave the cave system.
He was one of 20 Australians who worked on the rescue operation, as millions of Australians barracked for the boys’ freedom at home.
During the rescue, there was an overwhelming spirit of solidarity and mateship across the country.
No-one cared that the boys were trapped in a cave outside of Australia, we simply helped because people were in need.
As Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said: “This is what Australians do so well. Under our aid program, we have tragically many opportunities to support neighbours in times of crisis and so this is just another example of Australia being a good friend, a good neighbour, and helping out when it is needed.”
Australian doctor Richard Harris was reportedly the last person to leave the cave system. (Supplied: Michael Eaton)
The world came together
Whether it’s helping children in Thailand trapped in a cave, helping girls in Cambodia escape sexual exploitation or helping Fijians rebuild health centres after Cyclone Winston, Australian aid helps people in need.
The way the world came together to free children trapped in Thai cave and watched on until every person was free.
It’s symbolic of our opportunity to free children trapped in poverty around the world.
The principle of “leave no-one behind”, which was present during the rescue mission, is also the catch cry of the Global Goals — the global blueprint to end poverty, hunger and inequality by 2030 signed by 193 countries, including Australia.
These Global Goals are ambitious but they are entirely achievable, particularly in light of the progress the world has already made.
Since 1990, we’ve more than halved the number of people living in poverty from 1.85 billion to 767 million in 2013.
In just the past two decades, we’ve halved hunger, child mortality and made significant progress towards ending malaria, tuberculosis, AIDS and polio.
Let’s keep the aid going
For the first time in human history, ending extreme poverty is no longer a question of capacity, it’s a question of political will.
Unfortunately, the Australian Government has cut our aid program to a new record low of less than 1 per cent of our federal budget.
This is like ripping the heart out our country because our aid program is the mechanism we use to help in emergencies like the cave rescue and natural disasters like cyclones in the Pacific.
It’s a vital way we do our part to tackle poverty, climate change, forced displacement, human trafficking, gender inequality.
The cave rescue demonstrates Australians enthusiasm for helping people in need.
As we face unprecedented need for our support around the world, we need political leaders who will ensure our place in the world reflects our values of solidarity, mateship and doing our part.
Jody Lightfoot is director of Campaign for Australian Aid.