Foreign Minister Julie Bishop today launched the Australian Government’s new approach to overseas development assistance, which includes six priority areas as well as a performance framework for Australia’s aid program.
CEO of ChildFund Australia Nigel Spence said: “We welcome the increased clarity provided by the Foreign Minister on the future direction of Australia’s aid program. As a leading non-government organisation (NGO), the new policy provides many opportunities for us to work closely with the Government to deliver programs that accelerate poverty reduction in our region.”
The six new aid priority areas have been defined as follows:
- infrastructure and trade;
- agriculture, fisheries and water;
- effective governance;
- education and health;
- humanitarian assistance; and
- gender equality.
Mr Spence said: “In particular, we applaud the government’s decision to include gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls as one of its six priority areas.
“As a child-focused NGO, ChildFund is currently advocating for the specific inclusion of goals to prevent child violence and exploitation in the post-2015 Millennium Development agenda. The government decision to focus on ending gender-based violence as part of its focus on women and girls empowerment is very welcome.”
ChildFund also wholly supports the government decision to continue investing in programs focused on health and education, as well as its recognition of the role played by Australia in providing humanitarian assistance in our region. Interventions in health and education over the last decade have resulted in a significant decrease to the under-five mortality rate, and most countries are now on target to achieve universal primary education.
ChildFund notes the strong emphasis on economic growth, private sector involvement and aid for trade as a central thrust of the Government’s new aid policy objectives. ChildFund recognises and agrees that the private sector has an important role to play in generating economic growth, creating jobs and raising living standards for people in poor communities.
However, it is important to note that economic growth without attention to inclusion and equity will fail to reach the poorest. For economic growth to be truly regarded as successful in reducing poverty, it is essential that it is responsible, inclusive and equitable.
Mr Spence said: “Many large scale infrastructure projects do encourage macro-economic growth, but this does not automatically lead to widespread poverty reduction. Papua New Guinea, which has benefited from billions of private investment in its resource sector, is a stark reminder of how an increase in GDP growth does not necessarily result in a generalised improvement to living standards.”
It is reassuring, however, to see evidence of the Government’s commitment to delivering an effective and results-driven aid program. Mr Spence said: “In 2009, ChildFund developed a comprehensive Development Effectiveness Framework to ensure that we could measure the impact of our programs. The government’s decision to do the same is only right.
“Given that the Government aid program is funded by taxpayers, it is important that we can demonstrate in real terms the many significant achievements made to the lives of children and families in poor communities. The new performance framework will give the Australian public increased confidence in what is already an innovative and effective aid program.”