The Australian Government released their anticipated new development policy this week: ‘Australia’s International Development Policy: For a peaceful, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific.’

Baptist World Aid Australia welcomes the long-term vision, direction and ambition of the policy including greater levels of international collaboration and cooperation both within, and in the interests of the Indo-Pacific region, and alleviating poverty as a necessary component for ongoing human flourishing both at home and abroad. Similarly, we welcome the consultation with indigenous leaders and traditions in the policy’s construction.

While the global community emerges from the COVID pandemic during a period of significant polycrisis, the associated challenges have the capacity to drive levels of global inequality to even further extremes. These crises include:

  • Multiple armed conflicts causing the displacement of peoples on an enormous scale
  • Significant food shortages and even famine
  • Economic crisis as inflation and cost of fuel and staples soar
  • Rising sea levels and adverse weather events due to environmental instability

Considering these challenges, Baptist World Aid particularly appreciates the following initiatives:

  • The strength (and realism) of committing to a 10-year vision.
  • The focus on our collective need for stewardship of, and care for the environment as a key to addressing instability amongst some of the world’s most vulnerable people.
  • The articulated commitment to gender equality, and the Sustainable Development Goals.
  • The commitment to the development of a new humanitarian strategy, and a fund to strengthen civil society organisations. 
  • The simultaneous release of a Performance and Delivery Framework, which lays the groundwork for monitoring the effectiveness of the Government’s development ambition.
  • Strengthening capabilities within DFAT, which will assist to deepen partnerships between the Australian government NGOs and civil society and help to enhance program effectiveness.
  • Prioritising locally led development solutions and leadership including multi-year funding for capacity development of local organisations. (In the development of the planned humanitarian strategy, we encourage the vital contribution of faith-based local agents which are often the first responders to a crisis and who remain in communities long after to support resilience and recovery).

Regrettably, the policy lacks a whole of world geographic focus, that recognises known humanitarian and development needs, in particular across Africa and the Middle East. We would urge that Australia does not constrain its generosity but responds to growing global need and we look forward to a tangible commitment to a more generous development budget that prioritises the participation of all people but particularly women, children and young people as agents of development and change in their own communities.

If you have any questions, or would like to discuss this further, please get in touch with Mike Bartlett, our Advocacy Policy Manager, at [email protected]

This response was co-authored by Jenny Vaccari, International Programs Manager, Baptist World Aid Australia