News: Sign our petition. “AusAID: Keep funding Palms volunteers!”

Palms Australia has launched a petition to Senator Bob Carr, calling on him to re-instate AusAID’s volunteer fund.

The petition highlights the value of Palms Australia’s programs to Australia’s international aid efforts and contrasts them with the program AusAID currently supports, known as AVID.

Each AVID volunteer costs AusAID over $60,000 per year in the field. Due to Palms’ lean operations, the humble willingness of our volunteers to live on a “local allowance” and the support and infrastructure of our networks, most Palms volunteers cost close to half the AVID price to place.

Palms Australia received AusAID funding under what was known as the Pilot Volunteer Fund, established in recognition of the diversity of volunteers and the organisations which host them, and the flexibility required for aid delivery to be effective.

The Pilot program was tremendously successful, with 20 volunteers taking up placements with Palms Australia and delivering services and staff training to communities in Timor-Leste, South Africa, Tanzania and Kiribati.  (This excerpt of the final PVF report demonstrates what was achieved under just one of its numerous objectives.)

The Pilot allowed AusAID to leverage Palms’ smaller size and strong networks to reach into communities who would not be able to host an AVID volunteer.

Sadly, though host communities reported fantastic outcomes from working with the Palms volunteers they hosted, AusAID has decided to end the fund largely, it seems, for the odd notion of branding our aid.

The petition’s appeal explains:

“It had nothing to do with cost, with Palms Australia volunteers costing less than half as much as AVID volunteers.

It had nothing to do with what our aid partners want, with many preferring to work in the relationships they have built with small organisations which share their philosophy or approach to development.

It has nothing to do with what volunteers want, as like partners they have diverse needs not realised by a single monolithic program.

It doesn’t even achieve the goal of increased goodwill towards Australian aid in the way that recognising the diversity of partners and the flexibility of smaller agencies would.

For a tiny cost AusAID could re-instate the volunteer fund and demonstrate that its priority is aid which delivers the best bang for Australian taxpayers’ bucks.”

Palms Australia is calling upon its supporters and those who support an aid program which prioritises increased effectiveness per tax dollar spent, to sign its petition at https://www.change.org/en-AU/petitions/foreign-minister-bob-carr-support-diversity-and-flexibility-in-volunteering-2.

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A partnership is not about money changing hands. A true partnership is about ideas changing minds. - Jan Vandemoortele