In times past, Australia was often known as the ‘Lucky Country’. We are a generous country, a generous people and proof of this has played out time and time again. When someone is facing hard times, we, Australians, want to help. Yet, over recent years we have failed to deliver on our promise of foreign aid.
This is why when the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade invited public consultation on its review of Australia’s foreign policy, the ACL submitted a paper calling on the government to recommence foreign aid at our promised level, and direct it responsibly, away from abortion services and comprehensive sexuality programs.
In 2000, Australia committed to the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDG) established by the United Nations. These goals include the eradication of extreme poverty, the universal provision of primary school education, the reduction of child mortality and improvements to maternal health.
Australia has, so far, not lived up to its commitment to establish foreign aid expenditure at 0.7 per cent of gross domestic income.
As well as increasing our giving, the ACL is concerned that aid money should not go to fund abortions or to promote a radical ‘sexual rights’ agenda. NGOs such as International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), 148 IPPF Member Associations worldwide, Marie Stopes International, United Nations Education Social and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) actively promote ‘sexual rights’ through their aid work and educational materials.
Even where children are unable to finish primary school, where fresh water, electricity and housing are in short supply, aid workers have been surprised to find that ‘comprehensive sexuality education’ has been given precedence over the provision of basic needs.
Sadly, many developing countries (including Jamaica, Nigeria and Nauru), have reported pressure from these NGOs to accept sexual rights programs or lose their foreign aid. They report pressure to accept comprehensive sexuality education and to receive ‘safe abortion care’ when what these countries need and are asking for is primary school education and safe delivery facilities for babies.
These programs are introduced as the answer to every problem – from gender inequality to poverty and the reduction of HIV. The ‘sexual rights’ they teach operate to encourage early sexual activity in youth and to promote risky sexual practices, which result in more sexually transmitted infections, contraception, abortions and transgender hormones. These programs, therefore, serve to grow the customer base of these large NGOs to the detriment of the communities they purport to help.
Increasingly, this agenda is being recognised and rejected as contrary to the values of countries that assume the monogamous heterosexual family as the basic unit of society and which value the unborn.
In February 2017, Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop committed $9.5 million over three years of Australia’s foreign aid funding to the SPRINT program, to be delivered by the IPPF. Among the services offered through this funding is ‘safe abortion care’.
ACL’s submission highlights the fact that, particularly where gender inequality is greatest, this is a particularly dangerous policy for women. In societies that express a strong son-preference, gendercide through sex-selective abortion is a known problem. This has resulted in skewed sex ratios in many of the countries where Australian Aid operates. Skewed sex ratios in turn contribute to prostitution, sex trafficking and increased death in child birth. Large numbers of unmarried men, contribute to social unrest, instability in countries and crime.
If Australia is aiming to encourage “a more prosperous, peaceful and stable region”, then the promotion of comprehensive sexuality education programs, advocacy for ‘sexual rights’ and the provision of abortion services should form no part of Australia’s foreign aid program.