Aid Organisations Welcome Release of Major Aid Review
6 July 2011 at 3:36 pm
Australian aid and development organisations have welcomed the Federal Government’s new aid plan, which has been released following an Independent Review of Aid Effectiveness.
The review, commissioned by the Gillard Government in November 2010, is the first independent review of Australia’s aid program in 15 years.
The review found that the Australian aid program is an affective performer by global standards and that AusAID is well led by generally capable and highly motivated staff.
The review found that the incidence of fraud in the aid program was very low and that there are strong systems in place for the prevention and detection of fraud.
There had been growing concern about fraud in the aid program following the Brisbane Courier Mail reporting in March that AusAID had 175 cases of fraud under investigation stretching across 27 countries.
The review made 39 recommendations to further improve Australia’s aid program, which can be viewed here.
Delivering the Government’s response to the review, Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd launched the publication "An Effective Aid Program for Australia: Making a real difference – delivering real results", which sets out the purpose and direction of Australia’s aid program through to 2015.
In its response to the review, the Government has agreed in principle to 29 of the 38 recommendations, and has released a new ‘statement of purpose’ for Australian aid.
The statement of purpose states that:
The fundamental purpose of Australian aid is to help people overcome poverty. This also serves Australia’s national interests by promoting stability and prosperity both in our region and beyond. We focus our effort in areas where Australia can make a difference and where our resources can most effectively and efficiently be deployed.
Australia’s aid choices will be driven by country needs, and based on an assessment of poverty, effectiveness, capacity to make a difference, and national interest.
The Government’s response also sets out the following strategic focus for the Australian aid program:
- The Asia-Pacific region will remain the strategic focus of our aid.
- We will increase aid to our neighbours in East Asia and the Pacific.
- We will also increase aid to Africa, South Asia, West Asia, and the Middle East, delivered primarily through partnerships.
- In Latin America and the Caribbean, any future increases in aid will be modest and the bulk of Australia’s aid to this region will be delivered through partnerships with multilateral, regional and non-government organisations.
- Australian aid will be guided by five strategic goals: saving lives; promoting opportunities for all; sustainable economic development; effective governance; and humanitarian and disaster response.
Australia will create an aid program that is world-leading in its effectiveness:
- Bilateral aid will remain Australia’s primary vehicle of assistance in East Asia and the Pacific. In other regions, Australia will make more use of effective partners, and will consolidate the number of sectors we fund.
- We will drive value for money in our aid program.
- We will develop a rolling four-year whole-of-aid budget strategy covering the aid efforts of all relevant Australian government agencies under one coherent plan.
- We will define the results we aim to achieve, and measure and report against them.
- We will abolish or reform programs that are not delivering on their objectives.
- We will issue a Transparency Charter by the end of 2011 to provide more accessible information on what we fund and the results we achieve.
- We will further strengthen our existing robust fraud and risk management systems and capabilities.
The response commits Australia to building stronger partnerships:
- Australia will increase support for effective multilaterals and NGOs.
- In 2011 Australia will undertake an assessment of the effectiveness of our key multilateral partners to ensure that our objectives are aligned, and that Australia is working together to achieve results on the ground.
- We will provide more assistance through partner government systems where we assess these as robust.
- We will involve more Australians in the aid program by increasing volunteer numbers and improving links with business.
Humanitarian aid organisation CARE Australia says the release of the recommendations of the review are a critical step towards poverty eradication in Australia’s region.
CARE says thee review has outlined the explicit need for the aid budget to put the needs of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people at its core
CARE CEO Julia Newton-Howes says to see the future of the aid budget directed purely towards helping people overcome poverty is incredibly encouraging.
Newton-Howes says while this review will enhance the transparency of Australian aid and its effectiveness, the most important thing is the positive outcomes it will have on the 1.4 billion people who live in extreme poverty throughout the world, over 60 per cent of whom are women and girls.
CARE also commended the recognition of women as a smart investment to ensure far-reaching change and the focus on the role of local communities to ensure Australian aid reaches those most in need.
Plan International Australia joined CARE and other organisations in welcome the review’s findings, saying the renewed emphasis on schooling for children and maternal and child health means that thousands of children will have a greater quality of life, and they can look forward to a better future.
Plan chief executive Ian Wishart says Plan applauds the Government's reaffirmed commitment to significant growth in the Australian aid program and to ensuring that Australia's aid continues to be effective by insisting on the rigor of effectiveness reviews in every area of expenditure.
Wishart says he is delighted at the Government's commitment to working in partnership with civil society and non-government organisations, and to increasing the amount and reliability of funding to NGOs.