For those of us who have been working in the Australian development sector over the past few years, it’s easy to get caught up in the negativity, writes Marc Purcell, CEO of the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) (pictured).
Australian aid has reached its lowest ever level as a proportion of gross national income. Australian NGOs – many of whom rely on the government to fund their lifesaving work – have had to make hard adjustments after the boom period of the past decade, cutting programs, restructuring their organisations and laying off staff.
So you might be surprised to learn that I believe 2016 is an exciting time to be working in international development in Australia.
Taking a step back from the day-to-day, it’s possible to be optimistic. The world has begun a 15 year journey to implement the most ambitious development agenda ever agreed. And while the challenges we face are unlike those we have dealt with in the past, they present us with an opportunity to fundamentally challenge the current global order – one which has perpetuated poverty and inequality for the past half-century.
It’s no exaggeration to say that bringing about the world envisaged in Agenda 2030 will require us to fundamentally change the way we do development. And while the budget cuts and turbulence of the past few years have shaken the development sector to its core, it has also provided us with a unique opportunity to radically change the way we think about our contribution.
This is why we’ve chosen the theme of Impact: A future development agenda for Australia for ACFID National Conference 2016 – and the discussion to get us to this point has been two years in the making.
After years of cuts, uncertainty, concern and change in the Australian aid sector, ACFID National Conference 2016 is about taking stock and looking forward. It is about being bold and setting out a strong future development agenda for Australia, one that is based on the need to do things differently, as well as exploring what we need to do now to make it happen.
Large image: Providing clean water to millions of people/UK Department of International Development/Flickr
Small image: Marc Purcell/ACFID