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Publications archive - International Activities and Commitments


Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

Australia's report to the UNCSD - 1995

Implementation of Agenda 21
Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories, 1995
ISBN 0 6444 3152 0

Combatting poverty

Chapter 3 of Agenda 21

Generation of income through employment is considered to be the main way that Australians can improve their living standards. A main focus of Government policy is therefore, the creation of an economic environment which is conducive to the generation of employment. However, where self-provision is not possible, a comprehensive safety net comprising income support and the provision of free or subsidised goods and services ensures protection of a basic standard of living. The Australian 'safety net' is targeted at those in need, as measured by income and asset levels, rather than related to employment history, and protects people in situations where they have caring responsibilities or substantial disabilities, as well as retirement, unemployment or sickness.

Poverty and Australia's Development Cooperation Program

Poverty alleviation is intrinsic to the objective of Australia's aid program which is to promote the sustainable economic and social advancement of people in developing countries. All of the aid program contributes to the reduction and alleviation of poverty, in different ways and with different degrees of impact and immediacy.

The Australian Government believes that ecologically sustainable economic growth is an essential enabling condition for long-term reductions in poverty. However, the Government does not believe that economic growth is enough on its own or that it should precede redistributive policies or human resource development. The type of economic growth which the Australian aid program seeks to promote is growth which is ecologically sustainable and fosters increasing equity. To achieve this type of growth, the government pursues a three-pronged poverty reduction strategy which requires action on a number of fronts such as: the promotion of sustainable economic growth; investments in human resource development and social development; and the provision of safety nets and emergency relief where needed. The specific nature of poverty reduction programs will vary according to the particular conditions and needs of each recipient country.

The Government recognises that the impact of its development assistance on reducing poverty is strongly influenced by a range of other factors, particularly policy settings in the partner country. For this reason, the government places considerable importance on issues of governance. Australia's approach to governance in the aid program is positive and flexible, emphasising policy dialogue and initiatives developed through consultation with partner governments in the context of bilateral country programs. Key aspects of this approach include: developing the capacity of the public administration to manage resources effectively; support for an effective legal system which gives the individual legal protection and facilitates a market-based economic system; improving transparency and information flows; assistance to electoral processes; and strengthening civil society through support for institutions outside the government sector, such as NGOs and community groups.

The Australian Government recognises that women comprise the greater part of the poorest of the poor. Australia recognises that helping women can make a major contribution to the relief of poverty and that the obstacles to the full participation of women remain one of the greatest challenges for development. The Australian development cooperation program has a comprehensive plan of action for women in development (WID) which includes both specific measures to improve women's status and involvement in decision making and the increased integration of WID across the entire development cooperation program.

Poverty is closely associated with environmental degradation. The poor, having few choices, are the agents of environmental degradation in fragile rural areas. They are also the victims of that same cycle of degradation. The Australian Government is committed to the integration of ecologically sustainable development into all aspects of Australia's development cooperation program. This means that environmental impact and sustainability issues are taken into account in both activities aimed at economic growth and those directly targeting the poor.

Case Studies

For further information contact:

Department of Social Security