Foreign aid concerns

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Uniting WorldPrime Minister Tony Abbott recently announced that the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) will be absorbed into the Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

This news came shortly after the government announced it would cut $4 billion from the aid budget over the next four years – starting with cutting $656 million (almost 12 per cent) from the 2013 aid budget.

UnitingWorld’s acting director Ms Kathy Pereira has stated that while the organisation of AusAid is a matter for the Australian Government, the critical factor is the outcomes that are produced from whatever structure is adopted.

“Despite some lower order difficulties, AusAID has had a good reputation internationally and has delivered effective aid. Lives have been saved and poverty alleviated,” Ms Pereira said.

“It’s important that we maintain that momentum and it’s essential that any structure maintains a focus on alleviating poverty. This assists everyone, including Australia.”

The move to DFAT, with its aim of ‘advancing Australia’s interests’, risks overshadowing Australian aid, the aim of which is to help people overcome poverty.

While the full implications of the move aren’t yet known, Canada’s example isn’t promising.

The independent Canadian Aid agency was dissolved earlier this year, resulting in a shrinking commitment to aid and increased alignment with Canadian mining interests.

UnitingWorld calls on the Australian government to continue its commitment to a robust aid program that has at its heart a commitment to working alongside the world’s most marginalised people to overcome poverty.

“In the midst of these changes, it’s important to recognise that real progress is underway,” Ms Pereira said.

“Aid is making a difference to the ives of millions of people,”

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