Goverment cuts to aid funding a dissapointment

downloadMEDIA RELEASE
22 January 2014

Caritas Australia is disappointed by the Australian Government’s announcement of 18 January confirming cuts of $650 million from Australia’s official aid program in the 2013/14 financial year.

The cuts reduce funding for programs in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, and South and West Asia which help to lift communities out of poverty. They also decrease Government support for non-government organisations like Caritas Australia.

Caritas Australia’s CEO, Paul O’Callaghan says the cuts have caused significant strain on some of the agency’s existing commitments, but says Caritas will strive to ensure the impact of these cuts is felt least in those communities most vulnerable to poverty and injustice.

“For half a century, Caritas Australia has walked in solidarity with the world’s most vulnerable women, men and children, and we are resolute in our mission to honour the dignity of the people we serve.

“Despite this unforeseen, mid-year change to our Partnership Agreement with the Government, we remain committed to promote peace, justice and dignity for the poorest of the poor.”

Mr O’Callaghan said the generosity of the Australian public, bolstered by Caritas’ 40-year partnership with the Australian Government, has led to beneficial change in many countries.

“In the last year alone, this partnership enabled Caritas Australia to reach more than 1.1 million people across 20 countries.

“In Bangladesh, the percentage of families that can afford three meals a day has risen from 36% in 2005 to 100% in 2012. And closer to home in Oecusse, Timor Leste, Caritas Australia’s food and security program has reduced these communities ‘hunger months’ from four months per year to just one month.

“Success of this kind hinges on our ability to develop relationships of mutual respect with local communities. But to do this effectively, we need funding predictability from Government.

“We urge the Government to re-establish a sound basis for effective long-term partnership through its budget planning for the next four years.”
Media contact: Angela Ford/Nicole Clements on 0408 869 833 or media@caritas.org.au.