5 Responses

  1. Edd Suinao
    Edd Suinao August 18, 2014 at 8:21 pm

    Integration brought with it uncertainty for the local O-based staff (now LES). At the same time it also brought with it opportunities for the local staff. Change is a process that has to be properly managed to mitigate consequences and/or expectations. Change with Integration brought with it realization amongst local staff that they should start consider other opportunities outside of the new DFAT. In fact ALL local staff should thank DFAT (or former AusAID) for bringing them this far with the skills they’ve developed. I am Local Staff with DFAT at Sols Post. I see Integration as an OPPORTUNITY to explore beyond!

  2. Sara Webb
    Sara Webb August 18, 2014 at 9:56 am

    I wholeheartedly echo earlier comments on the importance of national staff in managing, implementing and guiding Australia’s aid program. I am seeing the same thing happen in other countries where the aid program works, not just Indonesia – this loss of expertise that will only leave the aid program weaker. It’s good to see that this critical part of the AusAID abolition is being discussed, and I can only hope that such discussion will have an impact where it really matters.

  3. Enrique Mendizabal
    Enrique Mendizabal August 14, 2014 at 2:36 am

    Ben and Rivandra, thanks for your excellent and candid analysis. Let me suggest a positive (unexpected) outcome out of all of this. The exodus of highly qualified Indonesians from DFAT may be exactly what Indonesia needs. In much of the developing world Aid agencies are the best places to work when it comes to ‘policy work’ (not development, since, after all, development policy is what Aid sending countries call policy in developing countries).

    These dissatisfied former AusAid staff may join local NGOs, the government, universities and even the private sector. (In a way one could argue that Aid Agencies had prevented them from joining these domestic organisations. By offering much higher salaries, professional international opportunities and the perks that come with working for Aid agencies, they may have undermined the capacity of local CSOs, think tanks, universities, and government.)

    What they have learned while at AusAid will probably come in handy for them and their new employers. Who knows, former AusAid staff working in government will be able to negotiate better deals with DFAT and other funders. They may use their networks to forge connections that bypass aid entirely (see unmediated aid suggestion here). New researchers at Indonesian think tanks will be better at accessing funding, too.

    This happened in Latin America. When DFID left, many of the local staff went on to lead new initiatives and work in government. Much of the impact that their work on governance, identity and social exclusion had, for instance, was due to this ‘migration’.

    I think that this ‘migration’ out of Aid agencies will happen in countries like Indonesia anyway. Ad they grown and develop and their political communities offer more and more interesting opportunities policy wonks will prefer to join Parties, ministries, CSOs, universities, think tanks, consultancies, etc. It makes perfect sense.

    And it could be seen as an unexpected positive consequence of the AusAid/DFAT reforms.

  4. Julie Hind
    Julie Hind August 13, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    Well ‘spoken’ Ben and Riv – such true words – when I have worked in Indonesia the local staff in Indonesia have proven their worth many times over. They have provided the important context and the necessary continuity – and, as you say, they are some of the best and brightest. Let’s hope our Government comes to its senses before it is too late

  5. Rebecca Spence
    Rebecca Spence August 13, 2014 at 10:32 am

    Thank you Ben and Rivandra. The very best mentors throughout my working life have been the locally engaged AusAID staff in Sri Lanka, PNG, Fiji, Solomon Islands, and other places where I have had the privilege of having worked. Their nuanced understanding of the political economy, and the peace conflict dynamics have made my job so much richer, and easier. During the past six months I have had many conversations with locally engaged staff who are demoralised and outraged by their sudden change in circumstances. These are the people that the Australian government need in order to deliver ODA successfully, not fly by nights like myself who drop in and out of countries.

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