International development agency Plan International has welcomed the Australian Government’s announcement that it will increase its focus on the Pacific, but cautioned against an over-reliance on loans or a reallocation of funds from the aid budget.
Plan International Australia CEO, Susanne Legena, said:
“We welcome the Prime Minister’s strong focus on the Pacific, our nearest regional neighbour. The commitment to increasing infrastructure spending is a positive announcement and recognises an important aspect of development in the Pacific. However, such spending must be in addition to current aid funding and must not be tied to loans that will burden these economies and laden them with debt for generations to come,” she said.
“The Pacific is tackling a range of complex issues including the devastating impacts of climate change, limited opportunities for its young people – who make up the largest proportion of its population – to be educated and employed, and disturbingly high rates of violence against women and girls.
“These issues will not be addressed through infrastructure spending alone, nor through investment in security and defence. We are concerned that the Government’s strong focus on this aspect of our relationship overlooks the real, pressing issues the Pacific is facing.
“It is Australia’s aid and development program that has played and will continue to play a crucial role in creating long-term systemic change that will improve the lives of countless people in the Pacific.
“Australia is in a strong financial position, and as such, we are calling for a commitment from the Australian Government to increase the aid program that has suffered consistent and significant cuts in recent years. MYEFO will offer the Government an opportunity to make such a commitment and we are hopeful they will recognise the benefits of investing further in the development of our Pacific neighbours, and others further afield.”
About Plan International
Plan International is an independent development and humanitarian organisation that advances children’s rights and equality for girls.
We believe in the power and potential of every child. But this is often suppressed by poverty, violence, exclusion and discrimination. And it’s girls who are most affected. Working together with children, young people, our supporters and partners, we strive for a just world, tackling the root causes of the challenges facing girls and all vulnerable children.
We support children’s rights from birth until they reach adulthood. And we enable children to prepare for – and respond to – crises and adversity. We drive changes in practice and policy at local, national and global levels using our reach, experience and knowledge.
We have been building powerful partnerships for children for over 75 years, and are now active in more than 70 countries.