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Thursday, 17 September 2015
Page: 7190


Senator RHIANNON (New South Wales) (16:18): The inquiry into the Greens' International Aid (Promoting Gender Equality) Bill 2015 was very useful. Some excellent information was presented to us. There were 14 submissions from non-government organisations, as well as from the department. It certainly did highlight the need for legislative change. There was a range of suggestions of how this could be taken forward.

An important aspect of the bill we were looking into is that it requires the minister to report on how funds were spent and how these funds helped to promote gender equality. The need to recalibrate the aid program did come through very strongly. It is recognised internationally that women need to be central to any aid program to help ensure that aid does reach the people that the public expects that it will assist in poverty alleviation.

The Greens put in a dissenting report, because the bulk of the evidence did show that legislative change is needed. I thank all of those organisations that put in their submissions, including ACFID, Plan Australia, IWDA, the Fred Hollows Association, Family Planning, Oxfam, ActionAid and many others. The submissions acknowledged that DFAT already does collect data on gender. However, it is clear that the level of transparency and publicly available information needs to be improved. There was some very interesting evidence about this issue of data, because at the moment it is collected as aggregate data. Aggregate data does not provide the detail required to track gender-equality outcomes and to signpost where greater effort or adjustment is needed. That again underlines why this legislation is needed. That is essentially why we put in the dissenting report.

Some of the recommendations from the submissions were useful. For example, Oxfam put forward that a Commonwealth aid official who proposes to make a decision relating to the provision of humanitarian assistance must, in making that decision, recognise gender differences, inequalities and capacities of those affected by a disaster or emergency and respond to them. ActionAid suggested that measurement is applied consistently to all projects, regardless of organisational partners' own mechanisms and capacities. This was emphasised time and time again—the need to break away from aggregate data and for there to be consistency in the data itself. While we need to improve on how that data is collected, that is not something that should just be left to the department.

The need for these measures to be put into legislation came through time and time again in the submissions. There was a very interesting experience in Britain, where the model for much of this legislation has come from. We will certainly look at how we take this forward, becoming all the more important as the Sustainable Development Goals are brought down. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted, debate adjourned.