​Valerie Browning and Dr Jonathan Cornford

Australia will spend approximately $4.8 billion on Overseas Aid and Development this year, but how much of it will go to the people who need it most?

This will be one of the questions to be discussed by Dr Philip Freier, Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne, at a public forum on Wednesday 18 April at 7.30am (morning, please note) in BMW Edge, Federation Square.
Dr Freier’s conversation guests will be Valerie Browning, an Australian-born nurse and midwife, who for 35 years has devoted her life to people in the Horn of Africa, and since 1989 to helping the nomadic Afar clan in north-east Ethiopia; and Dr Jonathan Cornford, an Aid researcher and advocate who works for Manna Gum, an independent Christian organisation motivated by a vision of the world in which there is enough for all.

Dr Freier said it was time to ask some hard questions about aid and development. “How much of the money given for aid and development actually benefits those who need it most – the poor and vulnerable – and how much of it goes to fund industrial development projects which have no real impact on the poverty and living conditions of many local inhabitants?”

He said some of the best and most important aid and development projects “are often low-cost solutions,” and that the success of projects is often seen over time and in partnership with local groups and organisations.

“There is often pressure from government and donors on Overseas Aid and Development Agencies to produce quick success stories but these do not always serve the best and long-term interests of the poor,” he said.

He added: “We often speak of partnerships with local groups and organisations but these are sometimes unequal partnerships where we take the initiative without proper consultation.”

He said he was greatly encouraged by the willingness of Australians to respond with generosity to the needs of developing countries, but would like to explore the complexities involved.

Roland Ashby
Communications Director
Mob: 0418 342 561