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Aid agencies want scheme to focus on women -

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ELEANOR HALL: Aid agencies World Vision and Oxfam support the Pacific guest worker scheme.

Oxfam's executive director Andrew Hewett says that with the right standards to protect workers the
scheme will generate money for many Pacific communities.

The agency is also calling on the Australian Government to focus on the plight of Pacific Island
women and to provide extra financial assistance to help island nations adapt to climate change.

He told Alexandra Kirk that he hopes Australia broadens its seasonal workers program.

ANDREW HEWETT: Clearly we would have like more countries to be involved but we've got four
countries. It is a good start.

The Government has announced that it is going to be reviewed after 18 months. We hope as part of
that review they will look at its extension to other countries.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: You want special attention paid to Pacific Island women when it comes to the guest
worker scheme. Why is that?

ANDREW HEWETT: Women's status throughout the Pacific is low. They lack access to livelihoods. They
lack access to political office. They lack access to influencing the direction of their
communities, yet they play a critical role.

Oxfam believes that women should be at the heart and gender equality should be at the heart of
Australia's relationships with the Pacific.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: From your work in the Pacific, do you think that many Pacific Island women will put
their hand up for the guest worker pilot scheme?

ANDREW HEWETT: I think it is unlikely without the right encouragement and I think the encouragement
has got to be both about the sort of work which is provided for in Australia but also the means by
which workers are recruited in the four countries concerned.

It has got to be a community-wide approach.

It also means good management in the host communities in Australia. It can't just be that people
are lumbered into a community. They have got to have that right level of support so that they can
be well integrated into the community and encouraged simultaneously to return after their time is
finished in Australia.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Federal Government is already working on a series of Pacific partnerships with
a number of island nations. Why do you think they fall short of what is needed?

ANDREW HEWETT: Well, I think the partnership approach is the right approach. We applaud the
Government for doing that. What we would say and what Oxfam has said quite clearly is that those
partnerships should focus on four pillars.

Trying to ensure that rural livelihoods are protected and advanced; improving accountable
governance through the region; tackling climate change which here and now is causing problems for
the people in the Pacific; and trying to achieve gender equality.

If we have those four pillars then we are much more likely to achieve a sustainable basis for
development throughout the region.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Don't those pillars, in your view, underpin the Federal Government's approach?

ANDREW HEWETT: Not consistently and systematically enough. For instance the Australian aid program
has not had a strong enough focus on agriculture and rural livelihoods as such.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: You are calling for an increased financial assistance to Pacific Island countries.
By how much?

ANDREW HEWETT: We're not putting an exact figure on it. In the area of climate change for instance
- climate change is already causing problems for the people of the Pacific through rising sea
levels, through more intense and volatile weather patterns.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Well what can the Australian Government do other than make provision for mass
immigration when the seas rise to the point that habitation is no longer sustainable there?

ANDREW HEWETT: Well, I think there are a number of things. First Australia actually has to reduce
emissions. We are one of the worst polluters.

But in terms of working with the people of the Pacific, it is both being ready and willing if
necessary, this is very much a last option, to provide a refuge for those people who lose their
land and their livelihood but all the contents.

It is also working with the people in the countries concerned so that they can better adapt to the
consequences of climate change. That means improving their livelihoods, it means preparing for
potential humanitarian disasters through volatile and extreme weather patterns and that sort of
work will need to be funded by additional funds, additional to what is already in the aid program.

ELEANOR HALL: That is Andrew Hewett from Oxfam speaking to Alexandra Kirk.