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Coverage of cuts to Australian Volunteer program in 2015 budget

Ashlee analysed the impact of the 30 per cent cut to the Australian Volunteers for International Development in the 2015 Federal Budget on the Devpolicy Blog.

In an analysis piece, she looked at what the cut could mean for the future of the program.

Consolidation seems to be the only logical step. But even then, hard decisions will be needed: fewer volunteers to Asia or fewer to the Pacific? If cost is the criterion – and it is hard to see why it wouldn’t be – the Pacific is bound to lose out.”

Read the full post here.

Ashlee also covered updates on the program post-budget on the blog–see below.

Red Cross no longer sending AVID volunteers
More details on the Australian Volunteers cuts

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Why is Timor-Leste trying to restrict the media?

This blog post analyses the proposed media law in Timor-Leste, which some commentators fear threatens press freedom, in the context of the wider challenges facing the Timor-Leste media.

In a context of increasing concern around corruption and public spending, the arguments of the government about the law being necessary for quality ring hollow, as does the reasoning that the law will enshrine journalism as a profession with protections.

This law will not solve the quality challenge facing the Timor press. New voices, increased competition and stronger demands from audiences are probably the best hopes, and they cannot be legislated into existence.

Instead, there is a real threat of increasing self-censorship by publications and individual journalists to mitigate their financial and legal risk in the face of the new sanctions that can be imposed under the law, and a real threat to the freedom and diversity of the Timor-Leste media.

Ashlee Betteridge

Read the full post on the Devpolicy Blog.

Combatting the family and sexual violence epidemic in Papua New Guinea: submission to parliamentary inquiry

Screen shot 2014-07-05 at 4.40.11 PMMinister for Foreign Affairs, The Hon Julie Bishop MP, asked the human rights subcommittee of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade to inquire into and report on the human rights issues confronting women and girls in the Indian Ocean – Asia Pacific region.

Given the wide scope of the terms of reference for this inquiry, we focused on addressing the family and sexual violence epidemic in Papua New Guinea (PNG).

This submission was prepared by Ms Ashlee Betteridge, Research Officer at the Development Policy Centre, The Australian National University, and Dr Kamalini Lokuge, Fellow at the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, The Australian National University.

Download full submission [pdf].

Read summary of recommendations.

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Beyond human rights: ending child marriage as a development imperative

Human rights are enough reason alone to push for an end to early and forced marriage. Groups such as Human Rights Watch have been working on this issue for many years. Still, campaigners now cite a whole host of other reasons to end the practice, such as the improved healtheducation [pdf] and poverty alleviation outcomes when girls marry later. Child marriage is now squarely framed as a development issue.

Read the full post on child marriage on the Devpolicy Blog.

(Image from Too Young To Wed)

Australian aid and Cambodia’s troubled rail project

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has released a damning Compliance Panel Review (CPR) report of a controversial railway redevelopment project in Cambodia, which was supported by Australian aid.

Activists have long challenged the project’s forced resettlement of thousands of poor families who had made makeshift homes along disused railway tracks, alleging inadequate compensation, threats, harassment, inadequate facilities at resettlement sites and adverse impacts on livelihoods.

The CPR report [pdf], released on Friday, agreed with many of these concerns and found that the project was non-compliant with a number of ADB safeguards.

Read the full story on the Devpolicy Blog.