The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a set of goals that meet the urgent environmental, political, social and economic challenges facing our world. Utilising The Salvation Army’s International Social Justice Commission’s SDG publication Go and Do Something, we have created easy to read focus articles looking at each SDG from an Australian, Salvation Army perspective. These articles explore how each SDG affects us locally, and include practical tips of how you can get involved. We hope this tool will be of benefit to you as you seek to partner with God in bringing about his Kingdom.
- Progressively achieve and sustain income growth of the bottom 40 per cent of the population.
- Empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status.
- Ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome, including by eliminating discriminatory laws, policies and practices and promoting appropriate legislation, policies and action in this regard.
- Adopt policies, especially fiscal, wage and social protection policies, and progressively achieve greater equality.
- Ensure enhanced representation and voice for developing countries in decision‐making.
- Facilitate orderly, safe, regular and responsible migration and mobility of people.
- Implement the principle of special and differential treatment for developing countries, in particular least developed countries.
Two key values of Australian culture are “getting a fair go” and mateship. Equality essentially means everyone having a fair go.
Some inequality is expected in and among countries, but excessive inequality is a problem for any society and any economy. Excessive inequality means that “people have unequal ability to take part in social and economic opportunities, and it undermines the cohesiveness of that society”. For the economy it means less economic participation for the majority therefore resulting in “fewer new businesses started; fewer house purchases; and fewer purchasing of goods and services”. Australia has many people who are considered well off or comfortable in their finances, yet there are still so many people doing it tough, experiencing homelessness, and struggling to afford even enough food to eat.
In Australia, income inequality can be seen through the fact that the top 20% of income earners receive 5 times more than the bottom 20% of income earners. Due to tax, investments and transfers, income inequality does not necessarily give a clear indication of inequality. Wealth inequality takes into account things such as assets, investments and taxes. In Australia wealth inequality takes the form of the top 20% of people having 70 times more wealth than those in the bottom 20%. Financial inequality divides the community and results in people not having access to opportunities to improve their lives.
The Institute of Public Affairs found that in 2017 730,000 Australians were unemployed and the under-employment rate was 9.3%, the second highest on record. The exact reasons for this is unclear, but it could have something to do with the competitive job market of today, or from some people’s lack of access to education (particularly higher education) because of cost. The Salvation Army’s National Economic & Social Impact Survey 2017 found that 41% of job seekers indicated that their lack of skills, knowledge or experience prevented them from entering the workforce. It is clear that education is vital in achieving equality as it empowers people and equips them with the skills required for entering the workforce. Additionally, 1 in 4 job seekers attributed a mental or physical health condition as a main barrier to gaining work.
Australia has striven for equality by implementing legislation to reduce discrimination with Acts such as the Racial Discrimination Act (1975), Age Discrimination Act (2004), Disability Discrimination Act (1992), Sex Discrimination Act (1984), and the Australian Human Rights Commission Act (1986). In addition to these, every state has its own equal opportunity or anti-discrimination Act. All of these Acts strive to reduce inequality, particularly in areas of employment.
Australia is considered a developed country and as such has a responsibility to assist its neighboring developing countries. In 2017-18 the Australian budget stated that Australia would invest $3.9 billion in Official Development Assistance (overseas aid), with the focus being on the Asia-Pacific region as well as other areas including Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa. However, this represents only 0.22% of Australia’s national income, which is significantly less than the promised 0.5% national income. Despite our wealth, Australia is one of the lowest contributors of all OECD nations, with many countries giving 0.7% national income (as requested by the UN) or more in aid each year . Australia must do more to contribute to reducing inequality among nations.
The Salvation Army’s Self-Denial fund helps people who deal with inequity in many of the poorest places on earth. Every Salvationist – even those living in the poorest countries – is asked to participate in this annual project to raise funds. The money from this enables people with few financial resources to help themselves. 
Pride, corruption and greed are often the main reasons for inequality. Major Victoria Edmonds shares in the ISJC’s Go and Do Something “Our pride shows in several ways: from our desire to get the credit or glory for things that others (or God) have done to our desire for others to ‘worship’ us or hold us in high esteem. Sometimes we want to ‘make a name for ourselves’ or to feel valued or more important than others. Sometimes we desire to be in a position of power over others in such a way as to boost our ego or for the sake of ‘bragging rights’”.9 In Matthew 20:25-28 Jesus flips the world’s understanding of greatness on its head, saying “whoever wants to become great must first make himself a servant” (The VOICE). Therefore, if we want to be great, rather than opting for temporary greatness in this world at the expense of others, we should value others above ourselves serving and caring for all of God’s people as brothers and sisters.
What can we do?
- Be an advocate for those who are disadvantaged because of inequalities. For instance, create or engage with conversations about pay gaps, challenge attitudes that promote inequalities and be intentional about having a positive approach to those who are different from you.
- Speak to your local member for parliament asking for an increase to the aid budget to at least 0.5% of national income.
- Support initiatives designed to reduce inequalities and deliver practical support to the disadvantaged. For example, participate in The Salvation Army’s Self-Denial Appeal which helps people who deal with inequity in many of the poorest places on earth. Every Salvationist – even those living in the poorest countries – is asked to participate in this annual project to raise funds. The money from this enables people with few financial resources to help themselves.
- Look into other projects that support those experiencing homelessness, poverty, or those in minority or other vulnerable groups.
- Commit this SDG to prayer both individually and as a Corps
– Pray, that people who suffer as a result of inequality may experience a sense of hope and purpose.
– Pray for Christians experiencing inequality and injustice, that will grow in their faith despite the challenges.
– Pray that those experiencing inequality will find their value in God.
– Pray for our nation’s leaders, that will feel convicted about ensuring equality nationally and globally.
– Pray that all people will work together to achieve the best situations for each other.
For more reading on The Salvation Army’s thoughts around SDG 10, see the International Social Justice Commission’s Go and Do Something publication.
 ‘Inequality’, ACOSS. https://www.acoss.org.au/inequality/  ‘Inequality’, ACOSS.  ‘The Hard Road: National Economic & Social Impact Survey 2017’, The Salvation Army. http://www.salvationarmy.org.au/Global/News%20and%20Media/Reports/2017/ESIS/ESIS_2017.pdf  ‘Inequality’, ACOSS.  ‘Inequality’, Oxfam Australia. https://www.oxfam.org.au/what-we-do/inequality/  ‘Four Facts about Inequality in Australia’, Institute of Public Affairs (Parliamentary Research Brief, 2017). https://ipa.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Four-Facts-about-Inequality-in-Australia-31082017.pdf  ‘Policy Statement on Australia’s International Development Assistance’, Australian Government – Budget 2009-2010. http://www.budget.gov.au/2009-10/content/ministerial_statements/ausaid/html/ms_ausaid-03.htm  ‘A quick guide to Australian discrimination laws’, Australian Human Rights Commission. https://www.humanrights.gov.au/employers/good-practice-good-business-factsheets/quick-guide-australian-discrimination-laws  ‘Australian Aid Budget Summary 2017-2018’, Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. http://dfat.gov.au/about-us/corporate/portfolio-budget-statements/Documents/2017-18-australian-aid-budget-summary.pdf  ‘Australian aid budget: It could have been worse’, Jonathan Pryke, The interpreter. https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/australian-aid-budget-it-could-have-been-worse  ‘Reduce Inequality’, Major Victoria Edmonds in The Salvation Army’s Go and Do Something. https://www.salvationarmy.org/isjc