Saying no to poverty

In another part of the world, UWA graduate Michael Sheldrick (CitWA LLB, BA 2013, BA (Hons) 2013) is also midway through a relentless travel agenda.

It’s all part of his New York-based role as Vice President of Global Policy and Government Affairs at Global Citizen, an Australian-grown international group working to build a million action-taking global citizens calling for an end to extreme poverty by 2030.

Fresh off an 18-hour flight from Davos in Switzerland, where he and his colleagues were advocating to government ministers and businesses at the World Economic Forum, he is due to fly to Senegal in a few hours with the chair of the board of the Global Partnership for Education (none other than former Australian prime minister Julia Gillard) and its Ambassador singer Rihanna.

There, he’ll petition for US$2.3 billion to support education in developing countries. 

I remembered I still needed malaria tablets for Africa. Luckily there’s a late night pharmacy opposite our offices on Broadway!

The 29-year-old former Young Western Australian of the Year majored in political science and international relations at UWA. He credits two high-school teachers (from Clarkson Community High School and Mindarie Senior College) and the guidance of his university lecturers for pushing him to overcome learning difficulties and aim high… and he’s probably achieved more than he ever dreamed of already. 

Not only has he worked with world leaders, musicians and philanthropists including former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Beyoncé, Usher and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, he also has a weekly schedule that might include working on United Nations agreements such as the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (“I rely on the letter-writing skills I learnt in commercial practice on almost a daily basis”); drafting speaking points for one of their influential ambassadors; and working with the homeless. 

Michael Sheldrick inline                                                                                                                                                                                                                Caption: Michael with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and actors Hugh Jackman and Deborra-lee Furness after a lunch in New York City to discuss the future of US-Australian relations

Michael has coordinated advocacy campaigns for Global Citizen that include efforts to eradicate polio and promote universal access to sanitation and education. That work has contributed to the group raising US$35 billion in financial commitments in the past six years – funds that will support and benefit global health, education and gender equality.

He also serves as Global Citizen’s chief representative to the United Nations, where he oversees the organisation’s outreach to diplomats from all over the world.

“The future of humanity ultimately rests in the hands of citizens,” he says, “and our goal of a world without extreme poverty is only going to be realised through the constant drumbeat of citizen-led movements clamouring for change.  

What I do involves a lot of work and travel but there’s never any shortage of Australians here in New York, so you never feel too far from home.   

"I consider it a privilege to be able to work full-time on a cause I care so much about.” 

For more information on Global Citizen, go to: