With famine declared in South Sudan and the UN warning of looming famines across Somalia, Yemen and Nigeria, the devastating ongoing war in Syria and the effects of climate change being felt in Australia and the Pacific, an Australian vision for a more prosperous, peaceful and secure world is more important than ever.
In its submission to the Australian Government’s Foreign Policy White Paper, Oxfam lays out its vision for how our foreign policy and Australian aid can contribute to addressing poverty and inequality in these unstable times.
Oxfam Chief Executive Helen Szoke said a prosperous, peaceful and secure world was in the interest of all Australians.
“It’s undeniably in Australia’s national interest to actively contribute to efforts designed to promote inclusive prosperity and enhance the security and wellbeing of communities in our region and beyond,” Dr Szoke said.
“This requires a long-term investment in communities, civil society, good governance and the environment.”
In particular, Oxfam is calling for Australia to focus on:
- Supporting other countries to reduce poverty, create productive employment, ensure decent work, tackle the global problem of tax-dodging to enable governments to provide quality public services, tackle climate change and support a strong and vibrant civil society;
- Reducing the number of humanitarian crises and taking measures to minimise their impact by addressing underlying vulnerabilities facing individuals, communities and countries;
- Providing protection and assistance, with a focus on saving lives, to all people affected by natural disasters or conflict;
Dr Szoke said a well-targeted aid program enabled people to access services, along with social and economic opportunities, that would otherwise be out of reach.
“For example, Australian aid assists people with improved access to clean water, participation of children at school, support from safe havens when fleeing family violence, access to market for small-scale farmers, and the inclusion of communities in their own development,” Dr Szoke said.
“These are pressing challenges experienced by the 767 million people globally that still live on less than US$1.90 per day; the majority of whom reside in Australia’s geographic neighbourhood, the Asia-Pacific.
“To have a meaningful and lasting impact, Australian foreign policy and aid should be targeted geographically, in our Indo-Pacific region, with the exception of humanitarian assistance, which should target those most in need, wherever they are in the world.”
“The Australian Government approach should be seen as an expression of Australian values, underpinned by the principles of demonstrating leadership and integrity, a commitment to gender equality – including ending violence against women, nuanced policy analysis, a whole-of-government approach, innovation and a commitment to increase Australian aid spending is 0.7 percent of GNI well before 2030.”
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Notes to editors:
Oxfam Australia is an international development agency that works with communities to tackle poverty.
We are a long-term Australian Government development partner.
In the 2015-16 financial year (a 9 month reporting period for Oxfam), Oxfam Australia directly reached more than 2.5 million people, 1.3 million through our long-term development work, and more than 1.2 million affected by disaster.