Time For Australia To Get ‘Fair Dinkum’ On Development

World Vision welcomes the Foreign Policy White Paper, but urges the federal government to recommit to Australian aid as a core pillar of foreign policy.

“There has never been a more critical time to recognise Australian aid as a core part of Australia's foreign policy, by committing now, during an increasingly uncertain geo-political environment, to supporting the vital role of aid in global and regional peace, prosperity and diplomacy,” said World Vision CEO Claire Rogers today.

“We call on the Australian Government to make a strong commitment off the back of the White Paper to rebuilding Australia’s aid program, so that we can effectively tackle the major challenges of our generation - displacement and climate change - and provide every child with the opportunity to be safe and free,” said Ms Rogers.

“To me, a ‘fair go’ means a very simple thing - it means every child having a place to call home, every child having the opportunity to be safe and free.”

“With 65 million people displaced around the globe, more than half of whom are children, and our region being one of the most disaster-prone in the world, getting fair dinkum on aid has never been more important.

“We welcome the government’s commitment to achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its focus on inclusive growth.

“However, in order to actually meet our goals, to meet the generational challenges of our time, we must rebuild our aid program’s capacity and capability and outline a roadmap to meeting the Sustainable Development Goals so that we can deliver on what we say.

“This means making sure we are tracking our effectiveness against the SDGs at least annually, investing in the productive capacity of small and medium businesses in our region to stimulate economic growth, and taking action on our own human rights obligations – including our cruel detention regime on Manus Island.

Ms Rogers said the government’s commitment to increase its annual humanitarian funding to more than $500 million in 2019-20 is “a great step in the right direction when it comes to the massive global humanitarian challenges we are facing.”

Ms Rogers said that contributing more to international development also made sense economically, and had benefits for the private sector.

“Recent research undertaken by the Development Policy Centre found that Australian aid has had significant, positive impacts on Australian exports to Asian countries, with every AU$1of aid to Asian countries resulting in AU$7.1 on average in Australian exports to Asian countries between 1980-2013,“ she said.

She said that the Australian Government must commit now to rebuilding Australia’s aid budget back to 0.33% of GNI overall, over the next six years, “if we are serious about meeting our goals and leveraging private sector involvement”.

“To meet the Sustainable Development Goals, we need to leverage public, private, national and international sources of finance. Australia’s official aid can be used as an incentive to attract private financing and ensure that the SDGs are implemented through cross-sector partnerships, including with NGOs,” said Ms Rogers.

Ms Rogers agreed that NGOs bring a unique value proposition to aid delivery and have much to offer in delivering the Australian aid program.

“We look forward to strengthening our relationship with the Australian Government as aid delivery partners,” she said.

Ms Rogers also welcomed the White Paper’s focus on women’s empowerment and agreed that economic empowerment should be a key part of advancing gender equality.

She said there should be a greater focus on children in Australia’s aid program, with the paper acknowledging the UN estimate that globally 18,000 children die every day from poverty-related causes.

World Vision Australia’s submission to the Foreign Policy White Paper made several key recommendations, including that the Australian Government must:

- Elevate Australian aid to be a core asset of Australia's foreign policy

- Prioritise its ODA investment flows to least developed countries, fragile contexts and states vulnerable to conflict, and to disadvantaged communities in middle income countries, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region

- Ensure Australia's human rights obligations are upheld in domestic policy to provide legitimacy to Australia's international human rights advocacy

- Influence other nations to open their markets to the world’s developing economies

- Take steps to enable emerging and developing economies to engage in beneficial trade

- Commit to responsibility sharing in the Global Compact on Refugees and promote constructive regional collaboration to improve protection of displaced people in the Asia-Pacific region

- Tackle the threat of climate change to the Asia-Pacific region as a priority

For further information or interview, contact:

Leah Swann 0421-857591

Picture: Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. Rohingyu refugee Almarzan with two of her five children. The other three, Shohidullah, 7, Khusru, 5, and Shamsun Nahar, 4,  were swept into the sea and lost as the family fled violence in Myanmar.

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