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Australian Aid in the South West Pacific Insider/Outsider Perspectives

CollectionsANU Dept. of Pacifc Affairs (DPA) formerly State, Society and Governance in Melanesia (SSGM) Program
Title: Australian Aid in the South West Pacific Insider/Outsider Perspectives
Author(s): Saovana-Spriggs, Ruth
O'Collins, Maev
Keywords: Papua New Guinea
Australian aid agencies
non government organisation
women's rights
Peace Monitoring Group
Solomon Islands
Date published: 2003
Introduction In his introduction to papers presented at a conference on Development that Works! Crosbie Walsh cautioned that: … development is different things to different people; it is people, society and time specific; it is something which requires vision, deferred gratification, and hard work; it cannot be achieved without cooperation; it is dependent on the favourable interaction of political, social and economic forces at local, national and global levels, it is not inevitable, and it can so easily come unstuck.If for 'development' the words 'effective aid' are substituted, this cautionary statement is equally cogent when examining the future path for Australian aid in 2003. Questions arise: Whose vision of development or effective aid? How do we gauge whether those involved are providing the hard work and accepting the need for deferred gratification, which may be required to achieve success? Just who is being developed - those who provide donor aid or those who receive it? What do we mean by 'cooperation'? Does it imply acceptance of the donor agency's development ideas and strategies or is there some sort of shared vision and shared planning in order to reach mutually agreed upon outcomes? There are geographical and historical imperatives which call for a greater focus on the effectiveness of Australian aid in the South-West Pacific. In his lecture on ‘The South Pacific-Policy Taboos, Popular Amnesia and Political Failures’, Graeme Dobell argued that Australia needs to ‘accept its unique role in the Pacific as a great gift, not a burden’. The implications of 90 years in a colonial role in Papua New Guinea and Australia’s geographical location cannot be ignored. Security, economic, political and social issues are all closely interrelated so: ‘Australia needs to start talking in terms of community and people rather than aid and exits'. While it may be an understandable temptation to exit when aid seems to be failing to achieve positive outcomes, it is clear that for Australia this is not a desirable or even achievable response.


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