Issues Facing Diaspora Communities in Australia – AADO submission

Our submission to the Senate inquiry argued that diaspora NGOs should be recognised by the Federal Government as equal partners, thereby reaping the significant benefits of working with the sector to deliver Australian aid.

We said that our work in Afghanistan has been possible because we have direct relationships with the Ministry of Education, with local governors and leaders. This means we can mobilise networks to support our work and this has been possible even with a travel ban in place for visitors.

AADO was one of only two diaspora organisations invited to appear before a hearing of the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee. Here is our submission: Sub61 AADO-2


Our presentation:

Afghan Australian Development Organisation  Education Training  Livelihood

  • Mid-size diaspora-led NGO in Melbourne
  • Delivering humanitarian and development aid in Afghanistan since 2002
  • But not part of the DFAT’s Aid Program – no mechanism for diaspora-led NGO’s
  • Australia’s diasporas are Foreign policy partners’ Foreign Policy White Paper/other DFAT papers
  • Need for a fuller recognition of the place of diaspora-led organisations in delivering Australia’s Aid
  • Government’s wish to work with diaspora communities in aid and development and forge a place for diaspora-led organisations in delivering Australian aid

AADO’s longstanding work in Afghanistan exemplifies the significant potential and the success of diaspora-led organisations in Australia’s Aid Program

After decades of assisting Afghans to settle in Australia, in 2002, Dr Nouria Salehi founded the Afghan Australian Development Organisation. Since 2002, AADO has delivered education and training to more 7,500 Afghans, particularly women and young people, giving people professional skills and livelihoods. Our Science teacher training program which uses a train-the-trainer approach so theimpact of our 176 hours of training reaches far beyond those direct beneficiaries.

We estimate  AADO in Afghanistan has improved the lives of hundreds of thousands of Afghans.

Australian public, including Afghan-Australians, has donated for this work so that philanthropic organisations like the Planet Wheeler Foundation would donate larger grants. We estimate in the last 10 years, AADO has delivered close to Au$3m of aid in Afghanistan.  In-kind and volunteer contribution of  many hundreds of thousands of dollars over just the last 5 years.

AADO’s work in Afghanistan sits alongside the efforts of the large international aid agencies. AADO complies fully with the same ACFID Code of Conduct accountabilities as do the large INGOs, and AADO is a full member of ACFID, and of ACBAR in Afghanistan.  AADO has a long track record of compliance with contemporary standards of planning, implementing, reporting, risk and financial management.

Since 2002, AADO has not received funding from the Australia’s Aid program for its substantial program of work –  apart from a couple of tiny DAP grant for materials.

Yet AADO serves as an example of how diaspora-led aid delivery

  •   demonstrates substantial expertise
  •   has structure and full compliance
  •   has direct access to critical local on-ground knowledge, and
  •   has a track record of delivery of proven, stable, sustainable programs
  •   our work in Afghanistan supports Australia’s national interests

Diaspora-led NGOs like AADO do not readily fit into current aid programming systems

AADO’s work in Afghanistan is possible because we have direct relationships into the Ministry of Education, and with local Governors, and local leaders, which means we can mobilise our networks to support our work.

The DFAT White Paper has recognised just how valuable these connections are and this makes it possible for AADO to keep delivering aid even when a travel ban is in place for visitors. We use local staff, highly supervised, and we use remote monitoring as well as  twice yearly visits to Afghanistan and we continue working in Afghanistan after many of the INGOs have left.

We believe the Federal Government now needs to take the next step: and recognise diaspora NGOs as equal partners, so it can truly reap the significant benefits of working with diaspora NGOs in delivering Australian aid.

A small consortium proposal has set out  how a practical, innovative and low-risk mechanism can be developed for a new stream of Australian Government funding and accountability for diasporas delivering Australian aid. Once lessons have been generated, the government could then consider options for continuing funding or up-scaling. But this first step must be taken.

Complete the picture of diaspora’s contribution and  how international aid can be delivered by other than INGOs