Ausaid Annual Report

australian agency for international development
  • Ben Reese, wearing an AusAID polo shirt, leans down to speak to a group of children in school uniform. They are deep in conversation as they shelter under umbrellas from the rain.

Director General's review

The year in review

A portrait head shot of AusAID Director General Peter Baxter, with a view of Canberra in the window background.

The past financial year has continued to be a period of growth and change for AusAID, building on the foundations previously established to deliver the government's aid policy framework. Corporate reforms and new approaches to business were embedded within agency operations during 2012–13, ensuring AusAID's ability to deliver an effective and efficient aid program.

The AusAID Workforce Plan—Phase Two was launched in September 2012. This will establish the capability and systems within the agency to ensure the right people with the right skills are in the right roles to effectively deliver an increasing aid program. Workforce planning has been integrated into divisional business planning processes and streams have been established in areas such as economics, education and governance. A range of learning options are being delivered to build staff capability within these streams.

In October 2012, AusAID adopted a new Governance and Accountability Policy. The policy reflects the substantial growth in the agency and provides strengthened governance arrangements and clear lines of accountability to deliver a larger and more effective aid program.

The first Annual Review of Aid Effectiveness was released in January 2013. The review is one of the key reforms flowing from the government's aid policy. This review set a new standard for aid transparency and accountability for Australia and our development partners. It reported on the performance of the aid program for 2011–12 and encompassed the aid spending of all Australian Government agencies—around 60 in total.

The review found that Australia's aid program:

  • made a major contribution towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals in our region and across the world
  • achieved strong results against each of its five strategic goals: saving lives, promoting opportunities for all, sustainable economic development, effective governance, and humanitarian and disaster preparedness and response
  • is effective, efficiently delivered and in good repair.

The 2011–12 results demonstrate we are making good progress and are broadly on track to deliver the results committed to by the government under their aid policy framework.

The Annual Review of Aid Effectiveness identified 17 emerging issues for the aid program that cut across a series of sectoral issues and our operational efforts. For example, while school enrolment rates have increased, improvements in the quality of learning have not kept pace, and under-nutrition is an emerging global issue impacting Australia's major development partners. AusAID is considering ways it can make improvements in these sectors.

The Independent Evaluation Committee (IEC) was established in May 2012 and the committee commenced work in June 2012. Chaired by former World Bank Vice-President Jim Adams, the IEC oversees the work of the Office of Development Effectiveness and provides advice on the quality of its evaluations. The establishment of the committee is part of the government's commitment to improve the evaluation of the aid program in order to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of Australian aid.

AusAID released its fraud control plan in February 2013 and remains fully compliant with the Commonwealth Fraud Control Guidelines. The plan emphasises our zero tolerance to fraud in the aid program and this was highlighted when AusAID signed zero tolerance joint statements with the governments of Papua New Guinea in October 2012, and Solomon Islands in May 2013. The potential losses as a result of fraud cases reported in 2012–13 equate to 0.014 per cent of Australia's aid. To further increase transparency of AusAID's public fraud reporting, we have released updates on case numbers and estimated losses for each financial year from 2011–12 onwards.

We also continued our commitment to strengthening risk management in the aid program, including by developing a due diligence framework that will be progressively applied to all delivery partners from July 2013. The framework responds to the increasing use of partnerships and third party delivery mechanisms. It is a structured approach for identifying and assessing implementing partner risk before entering into agreements and providing funding. The framework will ensure due diligence assessments are undertaken in a consistent and pragmatic manner, strengthen risk management processes, and ensure funding decisions are transparent, robust and defensible. The due diligence framework assesses issues such as the organisational capacity of our partners, their approach to risk management, and policies and capabilities to safeguard vulnerable people and the environment.

The Australian Government is committed to ensuring child safety in all aspects of our aid delivery, and has a zero tolerance approach to child exploitation and abuse. The Australian Government is the first bilateral aid donor to implement a child protection policy. Following a scheduled review during 2012, AusAID revised and strengthened its Child Protection Policy and a new version was launched in February 2013. Revisions included strengthened reporting procedures and guidance on making confidential enquiries or reports.

A highlight during 2012–13 was the positive peer review of the Australian aid program by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's Development Assistance Committee, released in May 2013. The report praised AusAID for the unprecedented organisational reform which has been undertaken since the last peer review in 2008, ensuring an efficiently-run, transparent and effective aid program. The peer review commended Australia in several areas, including disability-inclusive development, engagement with civil society, approach to fragile and conflict-affected states, transparency, and innovative work in disaster risk reduction. The report made 11 recommendations, which Australia is working to implement to continue our ongoing development reform efforts.

A Business Improvement Taskforce has helped to coordinate efforts to further improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our operations. Business improvements in 2012–13 included:

  • establishing a human resources help desk to provide staff with a single point of entry for human resource queries
  • implementing an online booking tool for travel, reducing the number of processes and forms required to save staff time
  • implementing eRecruit to automate and streamline recruitment processes to enable candidates to apply online for vacancies and track the progress of their applications
  • establishing the Aid Advisory Services Standing Offer to streamline access to firms and individuals to provide advisory services, while ensuring value for money in accordance with the Adviser Remuneration Framework
  • simplifying processes for low value and low risk investments so that development assistance can be delivered quickly and efficiently.

AusAID's Agreements and Value for Money Branch leads efforts to improve value for money outcomes in agency procurement activities and use of partner systems, for example through the Aid Advisory Services Standing Offer. During the year the branch has reformed our contract and grant templates to streamline processes, and developed the agency's due diligence framework. AusAID staff are also provided with regular training on considering value for money issues.

The Economics Advisory Group, established in January 2012, continues to work to improve the effectiveness and value for money of AusAID's programs by ensuring that programming decisions are consistent with sound economic principles and underpinned by high quality and rigorous analysis.

Recognising the importance of an inclusive workforce as part of attracting and retaining a diverse range of talented people, during 2012–13 AusAID released its new diversity statement, updated its Reconciliation Action Plan 2013–2015, and conducted a mid-term review of its Disability Action Plan 2011–2014.

Working with our partners

AusAID works with a range of domestic and international partners in delivering the Australian aid program. Ensuring efficiency, effectiveness and a focus on value for money informs engagement with all our partners.

Uniform standards on delivering, monitoring and reporting official development assistance were applied to all Australian Government activities from January 2013. This reform applies to 60 agencies which either have a direct official development assistance appropriation or which deliver aid on behalf of AusAID. The adoption of uniform standards across all government agencies will help improve reporting on the total Australian aid program in the next Annual Review of Aid Effectiveness.

In October 2012, AusAID released the Multilateral engagement strategy for the Australian aid program 2012–2016. The strategy focuses our efforts on improving multilateral performance and results. Individual engagement strategies for Australia's major multilateral partners are being developed, and the first of these—World Bank Group engagement strategy 2013–2016—was finalised in June 2013. Other strategies will be progressively released through 2013–14.

In December 2012, scorecards were released for 42 of our key multilateral partners. The scorecards provided a snapshot update on major developments in our partners' results, effectiveness and engagement with Australia's aid program since the Australian Multilateral Assessment (released in March 2012).

AusAID works closely with a range of bilateral donor partners in carrying out its responsibilities. In early 2013, AusAID published a strategy outlining how Australia identifies and develops donor partnerships and the priorities Australia seeks to advance in collaboration with these partners. Australia invests in effective partnerships with other bilateral donors to:

  • maximise the impact, geographic reach and influence of our development activities
  • learn from, and leverage, each other's experience and innovation to ensure best practice and optimum results in program delivery
  • prevent policy fragmentation and duplication of effort
  • ensure the needs of the Asia–Pacific are effectively represented in international fora.

AusAID continued to strengthen its engagement with the Australian business community in 2012–13. In August 2012, AusAID held its first consultative forum with business attended by more than 120 business and civil society representatives. A series of meetings with business have been held in priority countries, including Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Myanmar. These have helped identify practical ways of working together on issues such as women's economic empowerment, infrastructure, and vocational education and training. For example, AusAID and the Papua New Guinea-based mining company Oil Search jointly established a Reproductive Health Training Unit. This partnership draws on Oil Search's advanced logistics capabilities to reach remote areas of Papua New Guinea. Since December 2012, the unit has trained 180 maternal health workers and 28 supervisors across seven provinces.

On behalf of the Australian Government, AusAID signed a new multi-year partnership agreement with eight of the largest accredited Australian non-government organisations in December 2012 (CARE Australia, Caritas Australia, CBM Australia, ChildFund Australia, Oxfam Australia, Plan International Australia, TEAR Australia and World Vision Australia). Long-term partnership agreements were also signed with The Fred Hollows Foundation and Save the Children Australia in May 2013.

A year of delivery

AusAID has continued to provide a high quality aid program that delivered real results during 2012–13 against the government's five strategic goals. These are to save lives, promote opportunities for all, encourage sustainable economic development, promote effective governance, and prepare for and respond to humanitarian emergencies and disasters. The Australian aid program has achieved strong results against each of these goals during the year, including vaccinating more than 2.7 million children, enrolling one million additional children in school, funding the construction or maintenance of more than 4400 kilometres of road, and providing life-saving assistance to 11.8 million people in conflict or crisis situations.

Program highlights during the year

  • Announcing the Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development initiative on 30 August 2012. This will give effect to the commitments made by the Pacific Island Leaders in the Gender Equality Declaration issued at the 43rd Pacific Islands Forum in Cook Islands. The 10-year, $320 million initiative will improve gender equality in the Pacific and make a real difference to the lives of Pacific women, their families and their communities. An example was the launch of the Australia–Pacific Women Parliamentarians Partnership Program to help redress the low levels of women's representation in Pacific politics.
  • Responding to multiple disasters across the Pacific, providing life-saving assistance to more than 50 000 affected people. These disasters included Cyclone Evan in Fiji and Samoa in December, an earthquake and tsunami in Solomon Islands in February and a subsequent dengue fever outbreak, and severe drought in Marshall Islands in April.
  • Australia also continued to help alleviate the suffering arising from the humanitarian crisis in Syria. Australia was among the top 10 donors responding to the displacement of more than six million people as a result of the Syria crisis and provided $100 million in humanitarian assistance in 2012–13.
  • Growing development engagement in Myanmar as the Myanmar Government continued important political and economic reforms. A major milestone was achieved in January 2013 when Australia became the first western donor to sign a memorandum of understanding on development assistance with Myanmar. This agreement will allow closer cooperation and joint identification of development priorities. The Myanmar–Australia Partnership for Reform was launched in March 2013 during Myanmar President Thein Sein's inaugural visit to Australia.
  • Moving our relationship with China to a new phase by signing a development cooperation partnership memorandum of understanding in Beijing on 9 April. Australia and China will now explore practical ways to strengthen development cooperation and collaboration on development issues of common concern in the Asia–Pacific. The first cooperation project—a joint pilot investigation into malaria in Papua New Guinea—is already underway.
  • Hosting the second Mining for Development Conference in May 2013, alongside the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Global Conference. This was the first conference of its type held in the Asia–Pacific region. Australia's mining for development initiative helps developing countries maximise the economic benefits from their extractives sector in a socially and environmentally sustainable way.
  • Confirming Australia's leadership role internationally, and in the Pacific, in promoting and supporting disability-inclusive development through the 2012 mid-term review of AusAID's strategy Development for all: towards a disability-inclusive Australian aid program 2009–2014. A key achievement in 2012–13 included supporting the Second Pacific Islands Forum Disability Ministers Meeting in October 2012. The meeting increased political will and action to ensure national policies, legislation and development plans include and are accessible to people with disability.

In closing, I would like to congratulate AusAID staff member Judith Robinson who was awarded a Public Service Medal in the Australia Day 2013 honours list for her outstanding public service in development and diplomacy in the Pacific.

Signature of Peter Baxter, Director General, AusAID

Peter Baxter
Director General