THE Federal Government’s $625 million aid cuts – including to funds promised to Australian development NGOs – will hit the very programs aimed at helping those most in need, World Vision Australia’s chief executive, Tim Costello, said today.
Mr Costello said it was deeply disappointing that the Government appeared to be walking away from its commitment to boost funding to Australian aid and development NGOs, compromising their capacity to deliver assistance to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable communities.
“Increased illness amongst children without access to immunisation and clean water, greater health risks for mothers, and fewer opportunities for girls are just some of the very real consequences that will flow from the Government’s decision to cut this funding.”
The cuts which are part of a planned $4.5 billion slashing of Australia’s aid budget over the next four years risk undermining the Government’s own priorities for the sector, Mr Costello said.
“These cuts will directly affect our programs on the ground, programs designed to aid people with the very basics of a better life: clean water; and better access to health services as well as educational and vocational opportunities,” Mr Costello said.
“These are all in line with the government’s own priorities of health, education, women and girls. They are already being delivered efficiently by NGOs working on the ground, which in the Government’s own words, are one of the most effective agents for the delivery of assistance.”
It was particularly disappointing that the Government had chosen to withdraw more than $22 million from the funding promised to NGOs, volunteer and community groups this financial year, he said. This was despite the existence of a formal four-year funding agreement between the Government and development NGOs designed to provide those delivering aid on the ground with a stable and predictable funding flow.
Known as the ANCP (AusAid-NGO Cooperation Program), the program had been expected to assist organisations such as World Vision (which also contributes funds) to deliver 154 projects in nearly 60 countries to more than 7 million direct and indirect beneficiaries.
Mr Costello said World Vision hoped to continue to engage with the Government on their policy priorities, and welcomed the Government’s emphasis on health and our nearest neighbours.
“We call on the Government to maintain their aid commitments and to work in partnership with Australian aid and development NGOs to ensure a world-class, effective aid program. We stand ready to work with the Government to ensure our aid program continues to save lives and fosters sustainable economic development.”