Foreign Aid in the Spotlight
24 March 2015 at 11:15 am
Australia’s Foreign Aid Department is set for a shake up with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop launching an initiative she claims will revolutionise the delivery and effectiveness of aid.
World Vision CEO Tim Costello welcomed the launch of InnovationXchange, which he said puts forward a compelling case for maintaining or increasing the overseas aid budget.
Bishop said the $140 million project was a sign of a push for her Department to be more creative, entrepreneurial and innovative in its design and delivery of the Australian aid program.
“I am pleased to announce the first three innovationXchange initiatives; the Data for Health partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies, SEED Pacific and the International Reference Group,” Bishop said.
“The US$100 million Data for Health partnership is the first of its kind for the Australian Government (US$15 million) and for Bloomberg Philanthropies (US$85 million). It will build the capacity of Governments in developing countries to collect vital health information quickly and efficiently. This comprehensive new data will allow us to shape policies and priorities to better address health challenges.
“SEED Pacific will ensure the best new development ideas, approaches and players are mobilised to benefit our immediate region, the Pacific. This $20 million initiative will broker and support partnerships between global businesses and local organisations to solve seemingly intractable development challenges.”
Tim Costello said the launch was welcome news amid constant swirling of rumours that the Abbott Government was eyeing Australia’s foreign aid budget for more cuts.
“The Foreign Minister’s innovation hub is an important new development,” Costello said.
“It is critical that Australia’s contribution to the world through our aid program makes the most of new technologies, and is modern and forward-thinking.
“The Government’s innovation hub puts forward a compelling case to maintain Australia’s aid budget at current levels, or indeed to increase it, so it would be utterly bizarre to see more funds removed at this time. It’s a matter of simple logic – good ideas need money to be realised.”
“While the amount of money being offered for the start-up of this concept is not huge, it is large enough to generate outcomes in its initial phase, especially when supplemented with contributions from civil society and the private sector. The question will be, how can we fund the scaling up of the winning ideas?”