Australia has just released the AusAID Civil Society Engagement Framework.

It is advocates a sustainable approach to overcoming poverty through better service delivery, improved governance and stronger local systems.

Aidwatch is generally happy with the Framework, but spokesperson Liz Barrett says greater reporting requirements could bog some NGOs down.

And she says she hopes NGOs are not denied the freedom to speak out on issues that concern them.

“Now an example of that would be in the Pacific where the Australia Government is pushing a free trade agreement, PACER PLUS, and there are a number of civil society organisations that have been quite critical of that but who also do some great pro-poor development work within their own countries. So that would be, I guess, our main concern and hope that that wouldn’t happen.”

Aidwatch’s Liz Barrett.

Australia’s Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Richard Marles, says NGOs dealing with AusAID would not be stopped from speaking out but would be expected to back the agency’s goal of eliminating poverty.

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