Sunday, January 11, 2015
Breaking faith with foreign aid partners is unkindest cut Barbara Deutschmann The Age January 4, 2015
On top of the $7.6 billion in cuts to aid since it came into office, the Abbott government will take a further $3.7 billion out over the next four years.
How shall we celebrate the New Year? From where I sit, a minute's silence may be the best response.
I work for an Australian aid and development agency, one that waits to see where the latest round of cuts to the aid budget will fall.
Here is what we know: On top of the $7.6 billion in cuts to aid since it came into office, the Abbott government will take a further $3.7 billion out over the next four years, with 1 billion to be extracted from the coming year's budget alone. How much will be cut from the part of our aid that is delivered through non-government agencies like mine, remains to be seen. Wherever it falls, the impact will be brutal.
For a time, from 2004, buoyed by the commitments of Labor and Coalition governments to the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the resulting increasing aid levels, we saw the maturity of the aid and development sector grow. Importantly, we saw improvements in the things that the MDGs measured: more children at school, more babies born safely, more communities with safe water systems.
Australian aid does lots of good things. It enables us to invest in regional and global partnerships with cross-border programs to stop the spread of disease, to harness and share natural resources, and to help displaced people and assist after humanitarian disasters. Working with non-government agencies, our aid contributes powerfully to removing the barriers that stop people from living healthy, productive lives, enabling them to contribute to the wellbeing of their communities and to stable civic environments………….
These latest cuts break faith with the many communities ………….which benefit from Australian aid. They break faith with global agencies and those agencies on the ground delivering these impressive results…………..
The massive cuts are also a breach of faith with Australian non-government agencies and will inevitably involve job losses and the cutting back of programs. The loss of expertise and professionalism from the sector will take many years to restore……….
We stand at the cusp of a new year and look ahead with sorrow. Those most affected are the silent ones whose water and food supplies will remain precarious, whose babies will not be vaccinated and whose girls will not go to school. By 2017, Australia will drop from contributing 34¢ for every $100 of our national income, to 22¢……….
Barbara Deutschmann has worked in aid and development for more than three decades and currently works with TEAR Australia.
Read more http://www.theage.com.au/comment/breaking-faith-with-foreign-aid-partners-is-unkindest-cut-20150103-12gbdv.html