Oxfam Worried That Cuts To Australian Aid Budget Will Result In More Violence Against Women

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Oxfam the international aid agency has expressed concern about the cuts Australia is implementing to its aid budget. Oxfam says the cuts could result in greater domestic violence in the Pacific. According to the latest statistics in some countries such as the Solomon Islands, two thirds of women can expect to experience physical or sexual violence. NGO’s such as Oxfam that deliver aid programs are worried that cuts to the Australian aid budget and a change in focus could mean that domestic violence is simply no longer a priority issue.

Helen Szoke, Oxfam’s chief executive says that because of the dramatic cuts to Australia’s international aid budge, the overall focus has shifted from running to community programs to providing financial assistance for major infrastructure projects.

“If we take away the resources, if we lose the momentum of the important work that’s already being done and just focus on building roads or schools, we won’t tackle the actual fundamental issues that need to be tackled to lift those communities out of poverty,” Ms Szoke said.

Concerned by future cuts

The Australian Federal Government cut the international aid budget during the 2015/2016 financial year by $1 billion and has slashed the budget during 2016/2017 by a further $224 million. Many non-governmental organisations have expressed their concern over future cuts.

“Since coming to office the Coalition Government has cut more than $11.3 billion to current and future aid. The cuts to Australian aid threaten the progress that has been made in combating violence against women; programs that support women are already suffering as a result.” Ms Szoke said.

Government claims aid has actually risen

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade which looks after Australia’s international aid budget contradicts those concerns and instead says that total spending on Pacific based programs had actually risen in this year’s budget.

“Total official development assistance to the Pacific will increase to $1,138.4 million in 2016-17, up from $1,119.1 million in 2015-16. The Australian Government has zero tolerance for violence against women, both in Australia and internationally. Eliminating violence against women everywhere is a priority of the Australian Government and a part of its foreign policy and overseas aid program.”

The department added that it had allocated a budget of over $27 million this year to programs looking to put an end to violence against women in the Pacific.

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