Effective aid means real results for the poor: Caritas

07/07/2011

Caritas Australia has welcomed the Australian Government’s commitment to deliver real results for the world’s poor, as Kevin Rudd delivered Cabinet’s response to the Independent Review of Australia’s aid program.

In the most comprehensive review of Australia’s Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) in 15 years, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade has committed the Government to more accountable, transparent and effective delivery of aid in the world’s poorest communities.

Caritas Australia’s CEO Jack de Groot said the Government’s response to the independent review reflects the Australian people’s staunch commitment to protect human dignity and livelihoods for those most vulnerable to injustice and poverty.

“The announcement demonstrates a strong whole of Government commitment to see Australian aid achieve targeted and measurable outcomes for the poorest of the poor. It is a welcome commitment mandated not only by our obligation to the vulnerable communities we serve, but also by the Australia public who so generously support Australia’s aid program,” Mr de Groot said.

“The Government’s response puts health, education, livelihoods, justice and emergency preparedness at the forefront of Australia’s aid program; we’re encouraged to see this commitment to the poor at the heart of public policy.

“Bolstered by robust, accountable and reciprocal partnerships with Australian NGOs, multilateral organisations and community organisations, the Government’s framework for aid presents exciting new opportunities to achieve authentic and lasting change for more than 1 billion people living in abject and dehumanizing poverty.”

Real and lasting change in vulnerable communities

As the Government moves to implement a more strategic and measurable approach to aid, Caritas Australia stresses that development agencies, and the Australian community at large, must be discerning in their assessment of Australia’s ODA effectiveness.

“The Government has outlined a framework for effectiveness that delivers value for money,” Mr de Groot said.

“But in determining the value of our aid, we must ensure that effectiveness is measured in terms of the quality of change in poorest communities; the quality, strength and reciprocal nature of local community partnerships; and the extent to which our development initiatives build local capacity and skills to outlast our engagement.

While certain the Government is making a commitment to accountability across its aid and development programs, Mr de Groot said accountability must extend not only to the Australian tax payer, but also to poorest communities and those civil society organisations that represent their interests.

“It’s a new an exciting time for Australia’s aid program. Over the next four years we will see the aid budget increase to a staggering $8 billion. Now is the time to invigorate the development sector with new ideas and aspirations,” Mr de Groot said.

“We welcome the Government’s first steps towards achieving real and lasting change in the most vulnerable communities. With continued bipartisan support for an effective and transparent aid program, and with the infrastructure necessary to manage a burgeoning aid budget, Australians can take pride in our national commitment to the poorest of the poor.”
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