They’ve been grappling with hundreds of written submissions, dozens of expert roundtables, every Post’s own bilateral consultations, plus a host of cross-Government conversations. The message they’re hearing? Everything is important. And the development program means something different to everyone.
Australian ministers are up for some tough choices.
When The Lab took a dive into independent reviews of the Australia development program over the last 40 years, one thing was clear. A failure to focus the policy will result in ineffective development outcomes. To explore this focus and inform the imperfect decisions facing Government, the Lab wanted to surface, across a broad and diverse group of development and foreign policy experts, not only what they saw as important – but what tough choices they would make if they were holding the policy pen.
We went to 50+ experts in Australia, and 50+ experts in our region to ask them the hardest 13 questions facing the Australian development program right now. What trends are shaping the region? What national interests does the program serve? What should we start doing? What should we stop doing?
Across the results, the team at the Lab saw five big challenges emerge. And they’re challenges not only because their impacts are already fundamentally changing the region we work in, but because our expert cohorts were entirely unconvinced that Australia’s approach to date has been the right one. This report details the five big disruptions the Government — and indeed every development organisation and professional — will need to grapple with.
For our regional experts, the change needed was loud and clear – they want to see Australian improve how it relates to and works with the region. In addition, they saw that governance challenges are increasing as all countries grapple with education, health, and climate action post-pandemic.
You will see across the Pulse Check findings that there are areas where Australia has done well to date, and regional experts agree — we do high quality work, we broadly focus on human development, and our gender and inclusion focus and impact is clear. But there’s a lot to work on, and just as many unknowns.
Over the next few months, The Lab will be working with Government and Pulse Check respondents to debate solutions to the challenges raised in this report. There’s no doubt that these solutions will need more political will, more coordination, and more ambition than previously seen. For now, take a dive into the decisions the region’s top 100+ development thinkers would make as they tackle the tough questions shaping Australian development.