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Additional Australian aid for Indonesia

I am pleased to announce that the Australian Government is to provide additional assistance of $5.5 million for drought relief and employment creation in Indonesia.

This follows the recent successful High Level Aid Consultations between Australia and Indonesia which have allowed us to clarify further how Australia can help Indonesia through its current economic crisis.

Mr Trevor Kanaley, the Director General of AusAID, the Australian Agency for International Development, led the annual consultations last Thursday in Jakarta. The Indonesian delegation was headed by Dr Ir Budhy Tjahjati, Deputy Head, Foreign Cooperation, of the Indonesian National Planning Board.

The talks focused on the economic situation, food security in Indonesia and a range of issues on the Indonesia-Australia Development Cooperation Program.

There was agreement for further consultations over the coming weeks on the need for food, employment creation and medical assistance.

Australia will provide up to $4 million in assistance through non-government organisations for drought relief and employment creation in eastern Indonesia.

The Small Activities Scheme, a long-standing, grassroots community development program, administered by the Australian Embassy in Jakarta, will now be used for drought relief and employment creation, and will be increased by $1.5 million to $2 million for this purpose.

These new food security initiatives, totalling $5.5 million, are additional to the $3.3 million for the food aid and drought relief already provided to Irian Jaya, making a total Australian contribution of $8.8 million since October last year.

The development of a proposal to provide technical assistance to help the National Planning Board with the review and further development of employment creation programs was also endorsed.

The Australian Government was able to bring together a number of other key donors, including the World Bank, to discuss food shortages and the social impacts of the economic difficulties in Indonesia, with an agreement to coordinate the response to any future requests for food aid.

There were other areas where significant progress was made in our aid partnership with Indonesia:

. Microfinance schemes with Australia helping to generate employment during the present economic difficulties;

. The forest fires, with the Indonesian side expressing appreciation for Australian assistance to date and requesting future cooperation; and

. Governance where Indonesia agreed to Australian assistance to improve the planning and delivery of public sector services.

The next High Level Aid Consultations, an important part of the overall Development Cooperation Program between our two countries, will be held in Australia.

Media contacts:

Innes Willox, Minister's Office, 02 6277 7500; 0411 414 695

Mark Giffard, AusAID Canberra, 02 6206 4968