A new group takes a fresh look at development in Africa Posted October 8, 2015 by Diaspora Action Australia

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As the Director of DAA, from time to time I am asked to serve in an advisory capacity with other organisations. My most recent appointment is to a new body, the Advisory Group on Australia-Africa Relations (AGAAR).

The Advisory Group will inform the Australian Government’s thinking and policies on Africa through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).

I am often struck by how many different ways there are to look at an issue, and AGAAR offers an interesting approach because it’s members represent a diverse range of sectors, including mining, trade, education, international development, cultural and security.

For my part, AGAAR is an opportunity to raise the voice of African diasporas at government level.  I will be talking with my colleagues and African diaspora leaders to get their perspective on the current situation and their thoughts on the way forward.

The Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, announced AGAAR at the Africa Down Under conference in Perth last month, saying that the best way to help countries grow their economies and improve living standards is to focus on prosperity.

The size of the mining industry in Africa is staggering: Africa is home to 30 per cent of the world’s mineral resources; in 2014, Australia’s total trade with African countries was $10 billion, and a large part of that was from mining interests.

Many African governments have already recognised that there is great potential to harness the benefits of mining and trade through more equal partnerships, benefit-sharing and community participation in order to meet their countries’ social, economic, environment and infrastructure needs.

AGAAR is chaired by Peter Coleman, the Managing Director and CEO of energy company Woodside, who is also a member of the University of Western Australia Business School Board, the Executive Committee of the Australia Japan Business Co-operation Council, the Australia-India Chief Executive Officers’ Forum and the Advisory Group for Australia-Africa Relations;

Along with myself, other members are:

  • ŸDr Julia Newton-Howes AM, the Chief Executive of CARE Australia and Vice President of the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID);
  • ŸDi Fleming, Executive Director of the Ducere Foundation and President of the Australia Africa Business Council (Vic);
  • ŸProfessor John Hearn, Deputy Vice Chancellor, University of Sydney, Executive Director and Chief Executive of the Worldwide Universities Network, Chairman of the Australia Africa Universities Network;
  • ŸPeter Jennings, Executive Director, Australian Strategic Policy Institute;
  • ŸBill Repard publisher and proprietor of Paydirt Media is also the national chair of the Australian – Africa Business Council;
  • ŸDr Casta Tungaraza, President, African Women’s Council of Australia, Director of the Australian Institute of Swahili Language and African Culture;
  • ŸRic Wells (ex-officio), Deputy Secretary DFAT;
  • ŸGrame Barty (ex-officio), Executive Director, International Operations, Austrade.

It is still early days for AGAAR, but I am looking forward to working with this highly experienced and innovative group to enhance Australia’s links with African nations and, hopefully, to help create positive outcomes for African communities.

– Director 

Denise Cauchi

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