ChildFund Australia CEO Nigel Spence has welcomed the announcement by Opposition Foreign Affairs spokesperson Penny Wong that the Labor government will rebuild the Australian Aid program, if successful at the next Federal Election.
Mr Spence said: “Australia has a long history as a generous donor and partner to developing countries in our region.
“This has helped us to forge a reputation as a good neighbour, willing to contribute its fair share to reducing poverty, providing emergency humanitarian assistance, and upholding and advancing international frameworks and standards.
“Unfortunately, successive cuts to our overseas development assistance (ODA) have weakened efforts to overcome poverty in the region and has meant that our reputation has been tarnished. We welcome Senator Wong’s recognition that the Australian Aid program is an important pillar of our foreign policy.”
Currently, the aid budget is at its lowest level in Australia’s history. Five years of budget reductions, amounting to $11b, mean that ODA accounts for just just 22c in every $100 of gross national income and is on track to decline further, to just 19c in 2021.
Among its developed country peers, Australia has the 9th largest economy of the 30 nations, yet in terms of generosity as an aid donor it is now at 19th place, having fallen from 13th in 2011.
Mr Spence notes: “The current status of our aid program is such a poor reflection of our national values of compassion, generosity and fairness.
“Not only does Australian Aid improve conditions for the world’s poorest children and families, but it serves our national interests by fostering inclusive economic growth, creating new trading markets, countering instability and reducing conflict in our region.”
While Penny Wong did not elaborate on how much the aid budget would increase by each year, a resolution was passed at the Labor Party Conference to “achieve a funding target for the international development program of at least 0.5% of gross national income”.
The Coalition government has yet to announce changes to foreign policy, but Mr Spence has urged that both sides of politics come together on aid.
“In 2014, the Senate Inquiry into Australia’s overseas aid and development assistance program recommended that a bipartisan agreement on the long-term funding of Australian’s overseas development be developed, in order to reach international targets.
“Five years later, we want to see this become a reality. Regardless of who wins the next Federal Election, we want to see an Australian Aid program that is valued by all of our government representatives, and that they demonstrate a real commitment to rebuilding, supporting and progressing the Australian Aid program.”
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – 5 June 2017: Respected international development agencies ChildFund Australia and iCARE (International Christian Aid Relief Enterprise) today announced their decision to join forces, and combine their decades of experience in delivering high quality education programs for children in Asia, Africa and the Americas.
The formal transition is expected to take place on 1 July 2017, when iCARE will become a subsidiary of ChildFund Australia. At that time, ChildFund Australia will absorb iCARE’s operations, and assume the overall management and implementation of its development programs in The Philippines and Kenya.
ChildFund Australia implements programs with a range of local partners in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea and Vietnam, and manages projects delivered by partner organisations throughout Asia, Africa and the Americas. iCARE has implemented programs in many of the world’s poorest communities and currently undertakes projects with partner organisations in Kenya and the Philippines.
Nigel Spence, CEO of ChildFund Australia, said: “Our organisations share similar histories, a long-standing commitment to children’s rights and a strong belief in the vital importance of education in breaking the cycle of poverty.”
“We have a great amount of respect for the work that iCARE undertakes and the support it has secured from the Australian public. So we are excited to see how combining our strengths will bring positive change to even more children in a way that is innovative, effective and cost-efficient.”
Julian Fewtrell, Chair of iCARE, said: “We are delighted to be aligning with a like-minded organisation that so clearly shares our purpose and values. It presents a wonderful opportunity to expand our work to even more communities as part of the larger ChildFund Alliance network.”
Both ChildFund Australia and iCARE were established in Australia during the 1980s in response to global child poverty. Both organisations take a holistic approach to their child-focused development activities, with projects covering education, healthcare, water and sanitation, nutrition, livelihoods and child protection.
With significant expertise in the field of education, both ChildFund and iCARE prioritise increased access to education, high standards of school facilities and improvements in the quality of education for children in the rural communities where they work.
In recent years, this has seen both organisations implement projects which have delivered new or improved school buildings and related infrastructure, teacher training in child-friendly learning methodologies, modernised educational resources such as libraries and technology, and the creation of new literacy and numeracy programs to improve learning outcomes for children.