At Glover Cottages on Wednesday 20 September, Senator the Hon Concetta Fierravanti-Wells – Minister for International Development and the Pacific – presented the framework for Australia’s engagement with countries in the Indo-Pacific region in relation to aid. Minister Fierravanti-Wells outlined the Government’s refocused aid policy, which looks to bolster the security and stability of our region through new development partnerships. She said that as history indicates, Australia has remained a loyal ally in helping nations in the region to overcome their challenges. Accordingly, our aid program looks to firmly position Australia as a major source of support to our partner countries, as we look to continue to provide assistance to individual country contexts as we have done so in the past.
The Minister said that effectively preserving regional security and stability has become one of the government’s highest strategic priorities. She pointed to Australia’s strategic move towards developing partnerships with neighbouring countries, as opposed to a focus on leadership.
Through its investment of over $4 billion a year, Australia is looking to support sustainable economic growth and achieve two development outcomes in the region: facilitating human development and strengthening private sector development. The Government identifies education and health, infrastructure, gender equality and agriculture as some of the key areas of investment that will increase the stability of our neighbouring countries. It also recognises the obstacles that hinder economic growth – particularly climate change, the lack of gender parity and the high risk of disaster – and aims to equip its partners with the knowledge and resources necessary to overcome these.
Effectively, the Minister emphasised that Australia needs to promote a more prosperous, stable region, now more than ever. Ultimately, its aid program – in promoting sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction – functions as an effective mechanism to achieve this objective.
In response to questions about Australia’s continually shrinking aid budget, the Minister said it was no longer about quantity but quality, that Australia was doing more with less, and that recipient countries were being encouraged to become more self-reliant.
Report prepared by Maneesha Gopalan
AIIA NSW intern