Australia’s largest overseas aid and development charity today described as a backward step the integration of the Australian Agency for International Development into the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
World Vision Australia CEO Tim Costello said AusAID’s record on aid effectiveness was impressive, and today’s announcement that it would no longer be a stand-alone executive agency was disappointing.
“Our concern is that this will detract from the fundamental purpose of foreign aid – which is to alleviate poverty overseas,” Mr Costello said. “Effective aid makes a huge difference in the lives of the world’s poor. It’s about saving lives, ensuring mothers have the support of a skilled birth attendant during childbirth and giving more kids the opportunity to have a quality education.
“To potentially subordinate these aims to diplomatic and trade priorities would be a retrograde step, and send the wrong signal to developing countries in our immediate region.”
Mr Costello said the re-integration of AusAID into DFAT comes barely two weeks after the then-Opposition announced a further harsh cutback in the future aid budget.
“It is disappointing that the new Government chose not to appoint a Minister for International Development, but disheartening to think that the delivery of effective aid has now fallen further down the list of Government priorities.
“World Vision Australia however welcomes the Government’s commitment to redirecting foreign aid funding to NGOs, and remains committed to working with the new Government to ensure that the aid program remains focussed on alleviating poverty overseas.”
Mr Costello paid tribute to the professionalism and strong leadership shown by outgoing AusAID Director-General Peter Baxter.
“Mr Baxter has overseen a significant scale-up of Australia’s overseas aid program in recent years, has led the agency’s implementation of the Independent Review of Aid Effectiveness and the Comprehensive Aid Policy Framework. He has also worked tirelessly to build closer partnerships with countries supported by Australia’s aid program.”
Media contact: Kris Gough – 0481 005 468 / email@example.com