Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Letter for the Hon Julie Bishop Minister for Foreign Affairs

The Hon Julie Bishop
Minister for Foreign Affairs
House of Representatives, Parliament House

Canberra ACT 2600                                                                           18th June 2014

Dear Minister

It has been pointed out to me that Citipointe church does not receive AusAID monies from the Global Development Group. I have never suggested that it did. I have always used the expression ‘AusAID approved’ in relation to GDG. Here is one of many references that GDG makes to its relationship with AusAID and DFAT:

Global Development Group (GDG) is a Non-Government Organisation (NGO) carrying out overseas humanitarian projects with approved partners, providing aid and long-term solutions to help relieve poverty to the World’s poorest.
As an approved organisation under the OAGDS scheme (answerable to DFAT and the ATO) GDG aligns its projects with the Australian Government’s Aid Program and its commitment to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)….Global Development Group does not receive DFAT funding but is involved in a number of projects where AusAID provides funding from the government, and Global Development Group supplies the funding from the Australian Public….Global Development Group makes significant effort to comply to the accreditation standards as well as complete compliance with ACFID self-assessment.
GDG, a signatory to the ACFID Code of Conduct, providing tax-deductible funding to Citipointe, has not, in the case of the MOUs, made ‘a significant effort to comply to the accreditation standards,’ as laid out in the Code. It has made no effort at all. Indeed, GDG has refused every request for the MOUs made by Chanti, Chhork and myself. If GDG was committed ‘complete compliance with ACFID self-assessment’ it would insist on Citipointe providing copies of the MOUs to Chanti and Chhork in accordance with ACFID requirements.
A brief description to be found online of the relationship between AusAID and ACFID.
ACFID Code of Conduct and AusAID Accreditation Complementarity and mutual support for NGO Good Practice
The below table aims to highlight how the principles and obligations of the revised Code of Conduct align with the requirements and criteria of AusAID accreditation. It illustrates how compliance with the new Code of Conduct will support those agencies that are accredited or may seek accreditation to meet and demonstrate the relevant accreditation requirements on an ongoing basis.
The ACFID Code of Conduct is recognised by AusAID as an important quality assurance mechanism for Australian NGOs working in international aid and development. It is an AusAID requirement that organisations be signatories to the Code before they can be accredited to receive funding from the aid program. Not only are accredited agencies required to be signatories to the ACFID Code, other accreditation requirements draw directly from Code standards, including financial reporting and governance arrangements, and are mutually compatible in a many other respects, including in the areas of program management, monitoring and reporting, and engagement with the pubic.
The Global Development Group has certain clearly defined obligations in relation to ACFID and AusAID. That Citipointe is not a direct recipient of AusAID funds does not absolve GDG from its responsibility to abide by the Code.
At the heart of this mater there is one simple question:
“Why is it that no-one in a position to do so within DFAT, within ACFID and up to and including the relevant member of your own staff, is prepared to say to the Global Development Group: ‘Could you please, in accordance with the requirement of the ACFID Code of Conduct, provide Chanti and Chhork, parents of Rosa and Chita, with copies of the MOUs.’”
I do not understand why, Minister, you or the relevant person in her department, cannot simply write a quick note to Citipointe and the Global Development Group along the lines of:
“The controversy surrounding the removal of Rosa and Chita from their family in 2008 centres on two MOUs Citipointe entered into with the Cambodian Ministries of Foreign and Social Affairs. Could you please provide the parents, Chanti and Chhork, with copies of these MOUs?”
If ACFID refuses to make such a request and it no such request is forthcoming from your office, is it any wonder that unscrupulous NGOs can feel confident in breaching Cambodian law and the human rights of the poor and powerless? They know, despite being in receipt of tax-deductible donations from the Australian public, that they will not be held them accountable?
That I should need to write so many letters to so many people in order to get Citipointe and the Global Development Group to provide Chanti and Chhork with copies of the MOUs is, itself, symptomatic of the problems inherent in the way in which aid is delivered. All that was ever required, all that is required today, is for the relevant person to pick up the phone and ask Geoff Armstrong to provide copies of the MOUs to Chanti, Chhork, their legal counsel and to myself. Simple. Why no-one will make this phone call is a mystery to me.
best wishes
James Ricketson

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