Index: ASA 05/8971/2018
30 August 2018
JOINT OPEN LETTER TO THE PACIFIC ISLANDS FORUM LEADERS AND OBSERVERS IN THE CONTEXT OF AUSTRALIA’S ABUSIVE OFFSHORE REFUGEE PROCESSING POLICY
The Federal Government has kept its ‘foot on the throat’ of the Australian aid budget, despite its improved revenue, concerns about China’s rising influence in the region and contrasting with the $3.8 billion previously announced loans scheme for arms dealers.
Total aid spending this year will be $4.16 billion in 2018/19 ($3.9b 2017/18) or just 0.23% of national income – and entrenching Australia as one of the lowest aid contributors. Australia now ranks 19th out of the 29 nations that give aid in Gross National Income.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull along with Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Trade Minister Steven Ciobo have today launched Australia’s Foreign Affairs White Paper, outlining Australia’s foreign policy priorities for the coming years.
Director of Policy and Advocacy at the Australian Council for International Development, Joanna Pradela, said:
“We welcome the Government’s recognition that Australia’s values are the foundation on which our global engagement rests and are a vital piece of our influence in the world.
Members of Australia’s peak-body for aid and international development non-governmental organisations have called for “urgent humanitarian action” by the Australian Government to immediately cease the cruel, untenable situation which has seen refugees and asylum detained on Manus and Nauru for over four years.
ACFID has called for the Government to put stability first after the introduction of a stop-start aid budget which fails to match-up to the reality of global challenges, like climate change, food crises and the insecurity faced by displaced people.
The Australian aid budget as a percentage of national income has fallen to new historic lows, with spending of just 22 cents in every 100 dollars (AUD) in 2017-18, remaining on a downward trajectory to 20 cents in every $100 by 2020-21.
Commenting on the aid budget, following the lock-up at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, CEO of the Australian Council for International Development, Marc Purcell, said:
“Off the back of swinging cuts worth $11.3bn over the last four years, the aid budget is set to decline yet again. This is a further cut of over $300m over four years.
The world’s wealthy countries and some emerging economies give aid to poorer countries in the name of economic development and to help overcome the problems they face.
Summary of key points and recommendations
Strategic Priority 1: Values-based diplomacy and Australia’s aid and development
1. There is a set of resilient, Australian values that will resonate with the majority of Australians and will motivate Australian society to see itself as having an open-minded, generous, outward-facing approach to the world. Australia’s foreign policy will have the support of the public when it reflects and projects those values.
In the wake of a UN report documenting atrocities against the Rohingya people, a coalition of civil society organisations are calling for the Australian Government to urgently pressure the Myanmar authorities to condemn the human rights abuses and act immediately to protect Rohingyas.
Joint Statement on Refugees
We, as a coalition of organisations and community groups from around Australia, are writing to express our concern regarding the humanitarian crisis that Australia has created.
Successive Australian governments have managed and funded offshore detention camps on Manus Island and Nauru. The people detained there are clearly Australia’s responsibility. This situation has reached crisis point, and immediate action must be taken.
Help, not heels and handbags in humanitarian crises
A new report has found that more than 70 shipping containers packed with high heels, handbags, heavy blankets, canned food and other unrequested goods were sent to Vanuatu after Cyclone Pam in 2015. Ten months after the cyclone, 18 containers remained uncollected, accumulating nearly $2 million in storage fees, while more than half of the canned food items had expired.
A duty of care
“For the second time, an immigration minister has made false allegations without any evidence against an organisation focussed on child protection. In doing so, it seeks to deflect responsibility for the Federal Governments’ own inaction on harm being caused to children in its care on Nauru,” Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) CEO Marc Purcell said today.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has the power to examine the response of the Australian Government and its contractors to child sexual abuse on Nauru, according to legal advice released today by Australian Council for International Development (ACFID), the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) and the Human Rights Law Centre (HRLC).
“The Royal Commission can and should investigate the Australian response to child sexual abuse occurring on Nauru,” said ACFID CEO Marc Purcell.
Women still being sidelined in peace-building
Women are not being effectively use to help build peace and security in the world is the message that civil society gender experts are highlighting as they launch the 3rd Annual Report Card on Australia’s National Action Plan for Women, Peace and Security.
Australian Civil Military Centre, Executive Director Dr Alan Ryan will officially launch the publication tonight at the Australian National University.
ACFID Budget Analysis 2016-17: Cuts Disappointing, Transparency Welcome
While the Federal Budget’s fourth successive cut to Australian aid is disappointing, in its aid Budget Analysis 2016-17 published today the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) has welcomed the Government increasing the program’s overall transparency.
The Australian Council for International Development (ACFID), Australia’s peak body for overseas development and humanitarian organisations, today launched a new interactive map tracking the work of Australian NGOs in developing countries around the world.
“For the first time, Australians will be able to ‘see’ how community and government support for Australian aid and development NGOs translates into critical programs on the ground, around the globe,” said Mr Marc Purcell, CEO of ACFID.
The Australian aid program is at an important crossroads as the government decides how to go about implementing Australia’s commitment to the new United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
In a report released today, the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) – the peak body for international development and humanitarian NGOs – calls on the government to scale up the efforts of the Australian aid program to help eliminate extreme poverty and promote sustainable development.
In Australia, regular polls assess the public’s stance on aid and development, however, hard data is rarely gathered to gauge support levels. Currently, 1.5 million Australians actively donate to Australian aid and development NGOs.