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Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee
29/10/2018
United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

HOMER, Professor Caroline, Co-Program Director, Maternal and Child Health, Burnet Institute

KWITKO, Dr Ludmilla, Member of Steering Group, Australian Civil Society Coalition for Women, Peace and Security

LAMBERT, Dr Caroline, Director of Research, Policy and Advocacy, International Women's Development Agency

MEREDITH, Miss Sarah, Country Director (Australia), Global Citizen Limited

TURNER, Mr Chris, Executive Officer and Regional Director, Marie Stopes International Australia

[11:31]

CHAIR: Welcome. Thank you all for your time. Information on parliamentary privilege and the protection of witnesses and evidence has been provided to you. Do you have any comments to make about the capacity in which you appear?

Prof. Homer : Chris and I are also representing the International Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Consortium.

CHAIR: Thank you. Do each of you want to make a brief opening statement before we go to questions?

Dr Kwitko : Thanks very much for the opportunity to be here at the Senate hearings. The women, peace and security coalition—which I'm going to abbreviate from the Australia Civil Society Coalition for Women, Peace and Security to the WPS coalition—is a voluntary, non-partisan, independent coalition of civil society organisations, networks and individuals working to advance the women, peace and security agenda in Australia, the Asia-Pacific region and globally. The coalition's purpose, in our submission, is to ensure that the Australian government's implementation of the SDGs recognises the importance of women, peace and security across all 17 goals and explicitly makes the link between SDG 5, on gender equality and women's empowerment, and SDG 16, on peace, justice and strong institutions. We propose that, by focusing on gender equality and sustainable peace as cross-cutting issues, this highlights the intimate dependence of these SDGs and provides a mechanism of linking across goals and targets and across domestic and international contexts.

I'm just going to make three brief points, and to also note that 2019 presents an important opportunity for Australia to step up and demonstrate leadership in making a critical contribution to the SDGs, both in the domestic and global context. The first point relates to the fact that, in 2019, the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development will conduct an in-depth review of SDG 16, the peace, justice and strong institutions goal. Australia has an opportunity to showcase and promote good practice in building and sustaining peace—especially peace which explicitly recognises, integrates and enables the involvement of women leaders, women's organisations and networks, and the voices and actions of the diversity of women and girls, both domestically and in conflict-affected areas and regions. Simply put, you can't build peace and justice by leaving out half of the world's population.

The second point I want to make is that a key element in promoting good practice will be to listen to the voices, experiences and needs of the diversity of women and girls in Australia and in our region. This is critical to promoting an understanding and awareness of SDGs across the Australian government and the wider Australian community, particularly when it comes to decisions about and approaches to national security, justice and peace in Australia and internationally. The WPS coalition in 2017 conducted an Australia-wide community consultation which demonstrated the importance of adopting a human security approach to the implementation of goal 16, on peace and justice and strong institutions, and the importance of gender equality for achieving sustainable peace. I have copies here of the report the WPS coalition put together. The understanding of the Australian government and the Australian people would benefit significantly from the initiation of a public awareness campaign that clearly communicates a focus on human dimensions of security, conflict prevention and the importance of addressing gender equality and promoting women's human rights in achieving the SDGs.

Thirdly, in mid-2019 it is anticipated the Australian government's second National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security will be finalised. The national action plan is currently under development. It's critical that this national plan effectively aligns with the 2030 agenda and the SDGs by integrating, clearly, SDGs 5 and 16 as fundamental to its strategic policy and practice; and that there are appropriate resources for the implementation and monitoring, including looking at the SDG targets and indicators to inform priorities and the monitoring and evaluation framework of the national plan and of the SDGs. This would ensure that Australia effectively addresses its domestic and international women, peace and security obligations as well as its SDG commitments. These actions need to include meaningful engagement and collaboration between the Australian government and civil society—particularly women's groups—to ensure that there is both promotion of and accountability for both the SDGs and the WPS agenda. This could include, for example, gender-balanced, multisectoral reference groups, including civil society, academia, private sector and government; and structured integration into existing mechanisms to support implementation of the SDGs and the WPS agenda across agencies.

I just want to conclude by saying that this is broader than just the engagement with the international agenda through DFAT; it also includes other key agencies and government departments, such as Defence, the Office for Women, Attorney-General's, Home Affairs, the police and others. I just want to emphasise that the coalition looks forward to working with all the stakeholders in promoting the women, peace and security agenda and to critically engaging in the implementation of the 2030 agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.

CHAIR: Thank you. Dr Lambert?

Dr Lambert : Thanks very much to everybody who's had a role in bringing this inquiry together. We really appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today.

Senator MOORE: It's Senate-wide now.

Dr Lambert : We're delighted to appear today. I know my colleagues are going to speak to a diversity of issues—for example, the vital role of sexual and reproductive health and rights in achieving the SDG agenda, and the urgent need to expand our understanding of security to include human security. Each of these interventions will show—and has shown already—the intrinsic role of gender equality in the achievement of the SDG agenda. It speaks to the power of the 2030 agenda to support a systems approach to some of the wicked problems that we face in the world.

IWDA has six key messages today. At last year's high-level political forum, which reviewed gender equality as one of the goals, they recognised that gender equality is an enabler and an accelerator for all of the SDGs. Pursuing gender equality and women's empowerment in government policies and practices, domestically and internationally, will support the implementation of the SDG agenda. One part of this is to recognise and promote women as leaders and as knowledge holders on how to achieve change at local, regional, national and international levels. This includes funding, consulting and engaging with women's rights organisations. The sustainable development agenda embraces the leave-no-one-behind principal, calling for the disaggregation of data by age, sex, income and geographic location, amongst many other issues. To leave no-one behind, we need to measure change in a way that makes individuals visible and is gender sensitive, people centred and intersectional. Fifty-three of the 230 indicators in the global indicator framework are gender related. However, currently there is either limited data being collected or no agreed existing methodology to collect this data for 67 per cent of those indicators. Australia has championed closing the gender data gap in the past, and we encourage the ongoing leadership of the Australian government in this area.

Mechanisms to support the implementation of the SDGs are also critical. To this end, IWDA supports ACFID's call for a national implementation plan which clearly articulates the linkages between domestic and international policies, funding and mechanisms. We also support the call for a multisectoral reference group, which we believe should be gender balanced in composition and chairing and should consider cross-cutting issues, including gender equality, as a standing agenda item. One component of the implementation plan also involves raising the public's awareness of and engagement with the SDG agenda.

Finally, effective implementation of the global goals requires the mobilisation of means of implementation, including financial resources, domestically and internationally. It also includes, and has tremendous opportunity for, fostering new partnerships between governments, private sectors and civil society and increased investment to close the gender finance gap. Thanks for your attention. I look forward to the questions.

Miss Meredith : Global Citizen is an Australian story. In 2008, three young Australians formed what was then called Global Poverty Project to create a worldwide movement of engaged citizens working to see an end to extreme poverty by 2030. Our model is simple: we encourage people to learn and take action on our platform. Those actions apply pressure on world leaders to make commitments around the issues associated with extreme poverty, such as gender equality, food security, education, the environment, global health, citizenship and sanitation. We don't ask people for money but to take action to end extreme poverty. These actions include sending a tweet, signing a petition, sending an email, making a phone call and many more. By taking actions these global citizens are rewarded with access and tickets to our music festivals and other events around the world. All of our actions are focused on the delivery of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This is the road map to ending extreme poverty.

Since 2011, global citizens have taken more than 20 million online actions across the world to place pressure on business leaders and policymakers to end extreme poverty. These actions have resulted in more than $37.9 billion in commitments set to affect the lives of more than 2.2 billion people. We work with partners, influencers and cultural figures in our pop-meets-policy approach to grow the movement and engage our existing global citizen community. This year we embark on our biggest moment yet, with our first festival in Africa, celebrating the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela's birth, at Johannesburg's FNB Stadium on 2 December. We are calling for more than $1 billion in commitments to be made on stage, including investment in neglected tropical diseases within the African Union and a commitment from AU governments to spend at least three per cent of their budgets on nutrition and investment in girls' education. We are also calling for legal and policy reform around gender equality to ensure that every woman has an equal chance. In Australia, we are passionate to see Australia lift its ODA contribution to 0.7 per cent, and we work within the community to promote the Sustainable Development Goals. Thank you.

Mr Turner : I'm pleased to be here today, presenting with Professor Homer from the Burnet Institute, on behalf of the International Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Consortium. The consortium is a partnership of eight non-governmental organisations committed to advancing universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights, with a focus on Asia and the Pacific. We believe that the pursuit of greater gender equality and women's empowerment, particularly by focusing on those most left behind, is fundamental to national development and underpins the success of all the SDGs. A practical and cost-effective means of support to the cross-cutting issue of gender is through the promotion of sexual and reproductive health and rights. Sexual and reproductive health is critical to ensuring the improved health and wellbeing of individuals, communities and nations, to achieving gender equality and to empowering women and girls. Access to modern contraception in particular supports the education and empowerment of women and girls. It promotes national development by increasing the ratio of economic actors to their dependents. Furthermore it can improve the health and resilience of women in their communities by enhancing their ability to prepare for and adapt to the impacts of climate change. We suggest that there is value in approaching the SDGs through the cross-cutting issue of gender equality, developing a national implementation plan and investing in our measurement capacity to strengthen the collection of disaggregated data in both our international and our domestic contributions. Australia can continue to capture our successes, better understand our contribution to the global sustainable development agenda and deliver a broad range of sustainable outcomes domestically and internationally. Additionally the SDG framework can provide an accountability mechanism, increasing understanding and generating support from the Australian public for Australia's progress.

Prof. Homer : I'm so very pleased to be here, particularly as part of the consortium Mr Turner has just described. I will focus a little more on maternal health as an aspect of SDG 3. It's a critical component that many of our Pacific neighbours will have great difficulty in achieving. We at the Burnet Institute and across the consortium work particularly in Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Fiji. Papua New Guinea at the moment is facing an acute health workforce shortage and acute health system strengthening problems. Their maternal mortality ratio, a number from which you can work out the functionality of a health system in a country, is probably about 500 per 100,000 live births. In Australia it's about eight. That gives you a sense of magnitude. The SDG aim for 2030 is to get the maternal mortality ratio to 70. To get from 500 to 70 is almost an impossibility. Countries like PNG, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu—less so Fiji—across the Pacific, particularly the small island nations, need huge support and assistance in ODA. The focus on women and girls must not be let go. If we focus on women and girls, we focus on SDG 3, SDG 4 and SDG 5. We focus on all of them, but they're our key indicators. Thank you for the opportunity to be here today, and I look forward to any questions.

CHAIR: Thank you all for your opening comments. How are the SDGs that are aligned with Australian values and pre-existing policies actually changing domestic policy? Do you get a sense of that all? I know you've started off with the international aspects of it, but one of the things not spoken about much in the Australian parliament is the interconnection between domestic goals and ODA. Does anybody want to have a go?

Dr Lambert : I think there's a real challenge within the Australian implementation of the SDG agenda to see it as a living document that will help guide policy decisions, budget allocations and legal changes. It provides a comprehensive road map. It provides an ability to look at systems solutions by taking into consideration the intersecting experiences of people and policy solutions that will help to bring a more comprehensive approach to an issue. One of the challenges, though, is that when we look at some of the governmental machineries, we find that we don't have the right ones in place yet. That's why ACFID and a number of organisations have called for a national implementation plan for the SDGs. I think, drawing from the experience in the gender equality sector, if we were to see some of the things like a national action plan on women drawing together domestic and international mechanisms, strategies and approaches, then we'd start to see the SDG agenda really coming to life.

At the moment, we're still working through the hangover of the MDG agenda, which was clearly focused on the international sector. So we're still waiting to see how domestic agencies, domestic departments, at the federal, state and local government levels, can take the SDG and use them as a mechanism to support their strategic planning, to support their ambitions for what they want to do and how they're going to measure success. The SDG provide both an individual and a collective vision. So they can help you, as an organisation or a government department or an entire government, set a series of individual actions, but you are contributing to collective achievement. They can help you find the intersections between private sector, not-for-profit, cultural institutions, religious bodies and government. And they give you a common language. I think that what we haven't done is to find the common language of the SDGs as giving voice and giving action to Australian values, and they're implicit across the SDG agenda.

Senator MOORE: Does anyone else want to have a go at that one? I was just wondering because people were kind of leaning forward there!

Miss Meredith : There is no greater example than health security policy. Disease knows no borders. Australians need to be mindful of what is happening internationally. And we are world leaders in how we direct our services and in our vaccination numbers. The End Polio movement was created here by Rotarians. We have a wonderful story to tell on the global stage. The SDG are a great framework for us to take what we're doing here in Australia to the global stage, but also, in our international development investment, to make sure that we use the principles that we have here domestically on the global stage. If we are to stop diseases coming to Australia but also worldwide, we will save millions or billions of lives, if we do make sure we implement with passion and regard and have a national plan, and we support that recommendation.

Dr Kwitko : I'd like to respond to that too, because I think that we have an interesting case study evolving in the women, peace and security area, with the development of the second national action plan, which is supposed to come on board in the middle of next year. The discussions that have taken place in the development of that plan have certainly built on the first plan and also on the strengths and opportunities that the various agencies that are involved in the implementation have taken on board. They are largely focused on the international sector, so they are involved with DFAT, with Defence, with Attorney-General's and with what is now Home Affairs, and the discussion about making the link between the domestic situation and the international situation is quite difficult. That comes from a framework and a point of view that sees the plan and security issues, as well as peace, as being external issues that Australia addresses, when one of the key and important things that has come out—particularly when you consult with civil society across Australia, and women's groups specifically—is that the way that people think about peace and security in Australia is not necessarily a way that we would perhaps construct it, through a militarised point of view, in terms of defence or, say, something like countering violent extremism through the Home Affairs portfolio, that national security portfolio. People think about security and peace and justice in terms of very tangible, everyday, lived, practical kinds of experiences, and it's that reference point which connects us to the SDG and connects us domestically.

This is why I said that 2019 is such an important opportunity for us to really build on this timing, with the review of goal 16 next year—to make that domestic connection through our peace and justice and strong institutions linkages, and to interlink it with that gender equality perspective. The national plan is one that we, as civil society, have been strongly engaged in, through the WPS coalition, in being part of some of the reference groups there. We deliver what is called an annual dialogue, which is a dialogue across community organisations but is also a dialogue between government and civil society, to keep this domestic perspective at the fore, but to make sure that it's interlinked with the international and with the gender equality agenda as well.

Senator McGRATH: So I can understand, can you give some tangible examples?

Dr Kwitko : Australia is a multicultural community, and it's a community that has been very strong on furthering the opportunity for those from conflict-affected areas to come and live in Australia within our open justice system. One of the things that has been really important is to understand what security actually means across the diversity of voices in Australia. For some people it will be what is sometimes constructed as a sense of what is security, that is the absence of violence or the absence of conflict. For others, it's the ability to be able to walk down the street, to have access to housing, to not be poor, to know that domestic violence isn't a lived experience and part of your everyday life. That's Australia, as much as it is in terms of the kinds of works that we contribute to in the international sector as well. You can see that work being done very well through the kinds of programs that DFAT has done. But we need to recognise that this kind of understanding of human security is what we really need to be looking at in our own community. So when we talk about countering violent extremism, for example, that's put up in lights in the national security context. But it is also about programs where people in communities can talk to one another about what security and safety means in the community as well. That perspective is different for women as opposed to men.

CHAIR: I want to get this one in before we run out of time. Some submissions argued against concentrating Australian aid on a few specific goals, because all goals are interconnected. Other submissions suggested that some goals should be prioritised in line with the priorities of countries receiving the aid. What are your views on that statement, starting with Professor Homer?

Prof. Homer : There are 17 goals and many hundreds of targets. It's a very big piece. I guess I would agree that we should focus on some goals in particular countries where the countries have also identified that they need support and assistance. For me, obviously, maternal and child health, family planning and gender-based violence in terms of making an impact on SDG 3, health for all. The partnership in countries is absolutely critical. We can't presume to know what the country particularly needs or wants. No aid or intervention will be effective without the country's involvement from the outset. In many countries across the region maternal and child health, family planning and gender-based violence are critical areas which they are looking at, in my understanding. Australia is doing a good job in trying to support, but it's in pockets. It's not mainstreamed and it's not scaled up. They're the two later things we must have happen.

CHAIR: Does anyone else want to make a comment on that?

Senator LINES: Just going back to the comments that you've all made about linking the SDGs from a domestic perspective with an international focus, and thinking about where we are in Australia at the moment, where women's reproductive rights in some states are under challenge; where domestic violence in Western Australia—I'm a West Australian senator—is at shocking rates and more so recently; where in the parliament we struggle to attract women; we know that Australia is one of the most gender-segregated economies in the world in its workforce; where we still struggle for pay equity and women's involvement in companies and on boards et cetera—we're very good at talking the talk. I'm just wondering, given our own perspective—I note the comment you made about how we don't make that link—speaking to colleagues across the world in countries like Australia, these are now coming to the fore as well, we women's pay and participation are dropping behind and so forth. Does that really impact our ability to move the SDGs in other countries if we aren't a really good role model—we are not just talking the talk but we are actually walking the walk? I'd be interested in comments on that. Or maybe some solutions!

Dr Lambert : The SDG agenda provides all of us with the opportunity to do better. It sets targets, which Australia has not yet met, around gender equality. It gives a universal language and a universal platform. What we need to see in Australia is the joining up. What are our strategies here? What are the culturally specific contexts within Australia? What are the lessons we can learn from the region? What are the lessons that the region can learn from us? We need to join them together. Also we need to start thinking, when we're thinking about our budget allocations, also thinking about them in the context of how are these achieving and advancing the SDGs' agenda? If they're not, why we pursuing it? We need to ask those questions and unpacked them. I think it really seemed the intersection of the SDGs agenda is incredibly useful. If you think about women's access to land, property and housing, you can see that running out across a range of SDGs. You might start with a particular perspective, and if you bring the SDG agenda in, you think, 'No—I need to think about water, sanitation and hygiene as well when I'm thinking about land. I need to be thinking about goal 16 and legal systems and voice. What the SDGs agenda does is it gives you that bigger picture. But we need an implementation plan; we need accountability for the implementation plan; we need budget allocations; and we need to integrate it into the budget development process and then see genuine reporting and funding aligned across the not-for-profit sector, the private sector being engaged in setting the targets as well. It's that individual attention and collective action.

Miss Meredith : From our audience's perspective, we know that women are highly engaged in the conversation. Sixty per cent of our worldwide movement are women. When we put up girls and women's actions, they are the ones that are most popular. Shared issues like menstrual hygiene are huge taboo everywhere. We want to tackle that. We want to see that conversation happening here in Australia and internationally. We are passionate about levelling the law in all countries. We have huge numbers of actions being taken to encourage governments to end child marriage, to end female genital mutilation, to provide access to maternal health and critical health services. We are all passionate about that in every country. The challenge is that women are active and want to participate in the conversation. I would argue that the political conversation in Australia and the level of trust as advocates—it is very hard to engage with the electorate at the moment when it comes to the political system. So we try to talk through a different lens about the why of each action and encourage people that they can change the world. It may not feel like it at the moment in Australia, but we want you to feel that it's possible. Our politicians are passionate about these issues. They want to see change. Australia has been a leader for over 100 years in leadership with women, with the right to vote and increasing female participation in politics.

Mr Turner : I'd like to make a comment in answer to your question about Australia being a legitimate actor if we aren't modelling the behaviour in some ways. On the issue of climate change I would say that that is a vulnerability. Obviously it's in Australia's national interest for all nations in the region and the world to get behind the environmental and climate-focused SDGs, but we have a limited ability to influence and to bring others along if we are not leading by example.

Dr Kwitko : In the national security area there is a linkage to climate change. There is a linkage to all of the SDGs, whether you're looking at maternal health, housing, legal frameworks. The SDGs provide a framework to not silo. I think that's something which is a very powerful demonstration model for other governments and legal institutions as well. It's to understand that while we need to have agencies that look at particular areas, and we need to have budgets that go towards those areas, they are not discrete. That's not how we live our lives; that's not how our government functions; that's not how our legislation functions. The SDGs also provide an opportunity not to have to double report and double count on a whole series of things. This is an agreed international model to look at, essentially, how we move forward to the 2030 agenda. Why not—and this is a debate that has come up in other discussions that I've been involved in—why not utilise some of those targets and indicators as a way of already beginning to look at accountability, a way of beginning to look at priorities and settings; not to dismiss the others and ignore the context in which we work, but to find ways of utilising frameworks that already exist which allow us to look at accountability within our own country as well as internationally.

Senator MOORE: Senator Gallacher, in your previous question you threw it open. I am just wondering whether other people had a chance to comment, because I thought it was a really important question.

CHAIR: We have Professor Homer saying that maternal health and the interconnectivity are really important. What are other people's views? Do you think we should be going across all the goals, or should we be prioritising some of the goals with the priorities of the countries receiving aid?

Miss Meredith : We campaign on all 17 goals, but we prioritise the first six. In our view, if they are to be achieved, that's the quickest way to get near ending extreme poverty—no hunger; water and sanitation; gender equality. These are fundamental rights that we all want to have. Water and sanitation is a huge issue in the Pacific. We don't do enough on it. We don't talk about it enough. We are extremely passionate. We have been working with WaterAid Australia on trying to call on the government to do a high-level statement to 2030 on how Australia can actively be involved in that conversation in the region. Australia was on the High-Level Panel on Water. That was a good opportunity, and the Prime Minister did make a strong statement valuing water. There's a long way to go. We think that the first six are a good framework to focus on over the first five years of the goals and slowly build out.

Mr Turner : I think we have the resources, ability and talent et cetera to cover 17 of the goals. I don't think, from a national perspective, that there would be any reason to focus any more narrowly, but, as I think everyone would agree, in terms of national partner implementation in the region you would identify those goals in partnership with the government, primarily through DFAT's aid investment plan process. I think, though, that that process could be more consultative, but could also probably be strengthened by a push to look across the breadth of the 17 goals to influence those plans.

Dr Lambert : We are really interested in the transformative potential of the entire SDG agenda. In my earlier answer I was trying to point to the fact that the SDGs—the 16 substantive goals and the 17th goal on financing mechanisms—provide us with an opportunity to really unpack and get at a range of issues that might be affecting some of the wicked problems that we are trying to solve in the world. For us, being able to maintain a focus on all 17 is really important. That lets us pull the thread. IWDA would use the gender at work framework, which talks about individual consciousness, resources, policies and laws and deep structural norms. What we find is that when you look at the SDG agenda, the 17 have all of those different pieces. If you don't try to address resources, norms, individual consciousness and the laws and policies then you're not getting for the transformative outcome.

Senator MOORE: You've already mentioned that issue about siloing.

Dr Kwitko : I want to add that we focused on DFAT, but I would remind people that there are other parts of the Australian government that also have strong engagement in international programs overseas. We need to be mindful of what kind of engagement that is and how that's put together and whether it's in fact accountable to the SDGs as well. That's a question that needs to be asked.

Senator MOORE: I think that in that space DFAT do actually have a strong coordination process with Health, Attorney-General's and Home Affairs, which covers half the world. They all have to go back through DFAT when they're playing overseas. That's important to remember.

There are so many questions and there's not enough time. But thank you for your detailed submissions and for the ongoing work of every one of your organisations in this space. It wouldn’t happen without you. I have one question, and it is a subjective one. We've now gone 2½ years down the track of the agenda. There was an expectation that the voluntary response to the UN would be a point on that journey. There's hope that that will be a stimulus for more engagement and more action. This is a similar question I asked the previous witnesses. I am trying to get a sense of whether you are hopeful, whether the first 2½ years have given you hope, or whether you think that there is enough there for us to actually do more. Basically we have 12 years to go—it's a bit like: how many days to Christmas?—with this major agenda. I am looking for a kind of overarching response to put on the record. Who would like to start? Ms Meredith, with the work that has been happening in your space—and we heard the focus on youth—are you in a hopeful space now?

Miss Meredith : We are incredibly hopeful. We just had our festival in New York, and 60,000 people attended. They all, to get their ticket, took action to get their passion out about the Sustainable Development Goals. We had $7.6 billion in commitments made to the SDG. I think there are a number of countries that are out there passionately advocating for this. We've had Norway, the Netherlands and Ireland has just come to the table. They made a commitment on stage to increase their roadmap contribution. The United Kingdom continues to be a leader. We learnt from that parliament that, for them, that has been a leadership question, that the parties came together saying, 'We're going to legislate for this, because it's the right thing to do and it's what our British values are.'

In terms of the roadmap, the best outcomes require hard decisions, and I think we are seeing that a lot more. We've got leaders on the stage making large-scale commitments, including Canada, who has made large-scale commitments over the last year—more than 100 million towards polio eradication. We have a number of replenishments on the horizon that may give us a bit more hope—Gavi replenishment and the Global Fund—and we continue to argue for greater investment in the Global Partnership for Education, which didn't meet the replenishment target, but we are continuing to work with nations.

I hope you will all listen in and watch the festival on 2 December, which I think will see a number of really passionate and long-term commitments in Africa, which is where we need to be making those changes—whether they are legal reforms or large-scale financial commitments. That will genuinely give people a lot of hope.

We have come a long way as a world—two hundred years of halving extreme poverty. It is pretty incredible to think that has only happened in recent times. Nelson Mandela argued that it is a manmade problem, and it is one that we can try to fix.

Prof. Homer : I am hopeful. We have to always be hopeful to keep doing the sorts of work that we do. The SDG are invisible in Australia is my observation. I think this inquiry is an opportunity to make them visible rather than invisible and to embed them in policy, embed them in reporting and embed them in auditing systems. If you have to report on it, you are going to make it happen and have money attached to it.

Domestically, I think there is huge opportunity, and we have huge problems to solve. Gender based violence and reproductive rights are two critical areas in our space. Regionally, I think we have seen improvements. Not all the countries made the MDG but they all made progress.

Senator MOORE: They all tried.

Prof. Homer : They all tried and they all made progress. They all actually know what needs to happen. It is now about embedding the infrastructure, the systems and the processes and providing support where it is needed and where it is asked for and wanted and then working together. We are also a much more joined-up community than I think we were even 15 years ago. Some of that is the internet and some of that is countries coming together in more formalised and effective ways to make change, particularly the small countries in the Pacific. They know they can't do it alone. They are reaching out, not necessarily just to us in Australia but also to their neighbours. I think they will solve the problems together but with some additional support. So I am hopeful.

Mr Turner : I would say that 12 years is a practical horizon to work towards, and it has a role. We wouldn't stop working 12 years from now on these issues. So there would be no reason not to make an effort because we think we might not make it in time. Am I more broadly hopeful? It depends on the issue, but there will be a wide series of successes and some misses on the targets, I am sure.

Dr Lambert : Senator Gallacher, you talked earlier about the alignment of the SDG agenda with the Australian values. That is the really critical thing. The SDG, fundamentally, are about things that we want to achieve in the Australian community and that we want to achieve overseas through Australia's policy and funding. I think that we need stronger leadership across the community—within parliaments, within faith organisations, within civil society and within the private sector—because, as Professor Homer said, the SDG are invisible at the moment. They are this sparkly beacon for what we need to do. We worked hard to identify the sorts of actions and strategies and what sorts of data and indicators would tell us if we were making progress. It tells all of us around the world, in every community, how to do that. But we need accountability, we need implementation plans and we need to align our budget allocations. Whether it is public allocations or private allocations, they need to be aligned to do that and then we need to be accountable to it.

Dr Kwitko : Everything everybody said—and in the women, peace and security area specifically. We have an opportunity to directly demonstrate that by mid-July in terms of the National Action Plan for Women, Peace and Security, to enable an opportunity to make that powerful domestic link and international link and to look critically at ways of how we integrate the SDGs and to reinforce everything that everybody else has said—that we count it; that we give resources to it; that it becomes visible; that we enact it; and that we engage with it across the whole of society, civil society and across the private sector and across government.

That issue of visibility is really, really critical. With visibility, we need leadership. We've got leadership in civil society. There are many things going on in civil society in relation to the SDGs. We now need some more leadership in the public sector, in government and in parliament. I want to really endorse the work that this senatorial committee has done as a really great step forward in that leadership. So thank you.

CHAIR: Thank you all very much for your submissions and your appearance here today. Your contributions have been most helpful.

Proceedings suspended from 12:18 to 12:58