Government to Review Overseas Aid Program
Tuesday, 16th November 2010 at 3:40 pm
Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has announced the first independent review of the Government's overseas aid and development program since 1996, however aid agencies have warned the review may ignore the voices of the poor.
The review will examine the effectiveness and efficiency of Australia’s aid and guide the strategic direction of Australia’s future aid program.
The Gillard Government has previously committed to raising Australia’s Official Development Assistance to 0.5% of Gross National Income by 2015-16, and it says the Independent Review of Aid Effectiveness is designed to maximise the effectiveness of the program in light of this increase in funding.
The review will be undertaken over the next 5 months and will be conducted by an expert panel chaired by Sandy Hallway AO., a former secretary of two Australian Government departments.
Kevin Rudd says the recommendations coming out of the review will improve the structure and delivery of Australia's aid as it works with the international community to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDG's).
Welcoming the announcement, Archie Law, CEO of Not for Profit anti-poverty agency ActionAid Australia said with Australia's foreign aid budget expecting to double between now and 2015, the review is long overdue.
However Law expressed concern the review will focus narrowly on the role of aid in driving economic growth at the expense of other important goals such as human rights.
He expressed concern that the consultation process will ignore the voices of the poor. He says these are the people who have been, and will be, directly impacted by the government's aid program.
Catholic agency for overseas aid and development Caritas Australia's CEO Jack de Groot echoed these concerns, saying the the scope of the review provides few opportunities for the panel to fully reflect on the changing and pressing needs of the poor.
De Groot says that without incorporating the voices of the world's most vulnerable and marginalised communities in a review of Australia's aid priorities, AusAID cannot fulfill its mandate to create genuine development opportunities for the poor.
De Groot says the review is a real opportunity to drive big ideas, to develop the narrative of Australian aid. Caritas Australia hopes the review will deepen public awareness and understanding of Australia's aid commitments, and drive greater transparency and accountability by developing key targets and performance indicators.
The independent review panel includes:
- Sandy Hallway AO. (Chair) – a former secretary of two Australian Government departments and CEO of the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games, a Deputy Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet with responsibility for foreign aid and other international matters.
- Stephen Howes – Director, International and Development Economics, Crawford School of Economics and Government at the ANU, and has previously worked as the Lead Economist for India for the World Bank and as Chief Economist at AusAID;
- Margaret Reid AO – Reid has extensive experience with Australian non?government organisations (NGOs) working in international aid as the former President of the Executive Committee of the Australian Council for International Development. She is also a former President of the Senate.
- Bill Farmer AO – a former senior diplomat. Mr Farmer was Head of Mission in the two largest recipients of Australian aid, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. Farmer was also the Deputy Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations;
- John Denton – CEO and Partner at Corrs Chambers Westgarth, is a Prime Ministerial appointee to the APEC Business Advisory Council and a member of the Boards of the Business Council of Australia and the Commonwealth Business Council. He is also Chairman of Australia for United Nations High Commission for Refugees Australia.
The panel will consult with key stakeholders, including non-government organisations, relevant Australian government departments, regional partner organisations and bilateral and multilateral donors.
The Terms of Reference and further details of the Review are available at www.ausaid.gov.au