Poverty is still hold­ing Asia’s tigers in a trap

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Rear View -

AUS­TRALIA and the west are en­gaged with South- East Asia like never be­fore, as the so- called tiger economies ma­ture and the fo­cus of in­ter­na­tional busi­ness and fi­nance it­self shifts east from the tra­di­tional cen­tres of Europe and North Amer­ica.

But it’s not all busi­ness: the re­gion is still a part of the de­vel­op­ing world and vast swathes of the pop­u­la­tion still live in poverty.

Sub­se­quently, the op­por­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple who want to make a dif­fer­ence so­cially are just as great as for those of a more mer­can­tile per­sua­sion, and Aus­train­ing In­ter­na­tional is seek­ing more and more vol­un­teers and tech­ni­cal pro­fes­sion­als alike to join their bur­geon­ing busi­ness in this re­gion.

Aus­train­ing started life around 15 years ago - with the South Aus­tralian state gov­ern­ment as ma­jor share­holder - in the project man­age­ment of agri­cul­tural projects but is grow­ing from be­ing a niche provider to de­liv­er­ing a rounded busi­ness cov­er­ing ed­u­ca­tion, tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance and im­ple­men­ta­tion of gov­er­nance struc­ture.

Busi­ness de­vel­op­ment di­rec­tor, Tony Von­thoff, be­lieves Aus­train­ing’s grow­ing range of ser­vices pro­vides ben­e­fits to both Aus­tralia and the coun­tries it works in be­yond what is im­me­di­ately pro­vided.

‘‘ We con­trib­ute a lot more than our rel­a­tively mod­est share­holder re­turn: we pro­vide a lot of po­lit­i­cal cap­i­tal and a lot of po­lit­i­cal good­will, we are in­volved in de­vel­op­ing skills in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries,’’ he says. ‘‘ Ge­o­graph­i­cally speak­ing, we’re look­ing at the In­done­sian re­gion and the Philip­pines be­cause the gov­ern­ment is fo­cus­ing on ed­u­ca­tion pro­vi­sion be­cause bet­ter ed­u­ca­tion leads to bet­ter re­sults in so many ar­eas.

‘‘ We work with women in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries and also chil­dren - there are so many peo­ple liv­ing in poverty in those ar­eas and poor ed­u­ca­tion leads to a poor amount of choices and a lack of op­por­tu­ni­ties.’’

Aus­train­ing has man­aged over 300 bi­lat­eral and mul­ti­lat­eral projects through­out the Asia Pa­cific and the Mid­dle East and their spe­cialised project teams are skilled in de­sign­ing in­di­vid­ual pro­grams to meet the so­cial, cul­tural, in­dus­trial and or­gan­i­sa­tional needs of the client.

They man­age two of Aus­tralia’s most sig­nif­i­cant and suc­cess­ful vol­un­teer pro­grams on be­half of AusAID: Aus­tralian Youth Am­bas­sadors for De­vel­op­ment ( AYAD), places skilled young Aus­tralians be­tween the ages of 18- 30 into re­gional coun­tries for as­sign­ments of up to 12 months in du­ra­tion and the Vol­un­teer­ing for In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment from Aus­tralia ( VIDA) pro­gram places highly skilled vol­un­teers for as­sign­ments of up to 36 months.

With strong links to lead­ing ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions, Aus­train­ing can boast ex­per­tise in all key ar­eas of ed­u­ca­tion im­prove­ment from pol­icy, sys­tem­atic re­form, schools man­age­ment, teacher train­ing, cur­ricu­lum de­vel­op­ment and mon­i­tor­ing and eval­u­a­tion.

Aus­train­ing also man­ages the En­deav­our Awards, an in­ter­na­tion­ally com­pet­i­tive, merit- based schol­ar­ship pro­gram, in part­ner­ship with the De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion, Em­ploy­ment and Work­place Re­la­tions ( DEEWR).

They de­liver projects in a range of health care fields, in­clud­ing ma­ter­nal and child health, health man­age­ment, ev­i­dence- based ad­vi­sory ser­vices, pol­icy re­view and risk man­age­ment and as­sist client gov­ern­ments to im­prove gov­er­nance con­trols at the in­ter­face of the pub­lic, private and com­mu­nity sec­tors. ‘‘ The range of skills we’re seek­ing is so wide: de­pend­ing on the tech­ni­cal as­sis­tance pro­gram we’re pur­su­ing in any one place, it could be ed­u­ca­tion, eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, fi­nan­cial man­age­ment, lo­cal gov­ern­ment bud­get man­age­ment, so­cial aware­ness to aid de­vel­op­ment projects the list goes on,’’ Mr Von­thoff says.

‘‘ We even have a jour­nal­ism pro­gram, help­ing lo­cal jour­nal­ists de­velop skills on both a tech­ni­cal ba­sis and in terms of jour­nal­ism it­self - that would be a six- month pro­gram link­ing tech­ni­cal ad­vis­ers and those skilled in the de­liv­ery of train­ing, and mix­ing on- the- ground ed­u­ca­tion and a study tour of Aus­tralia.

‘‘ We’re seek­ing both vol­un­teers and pro­fes­sion­als. Vol­un­teers can em­bark on pro­grams with sched­ules from any­where be­tween a month and a year, but tech­ni­cal providers can also find them­selves in all sorts of coun­tries.’’

Aus­train­ing’s head of­fice was es­tab­lished in 1991 and is lo­cated in Ade­laide, while a fully owned sub­sidiary was es­tab­lished in In­done­sia in 1993 and op­er­ates from Jakarta.

Their foot­print into the Asia Pa­cific is fur­ther ex­tended via four re­gional of­fices lo­cated in Bangkok, Hanoi, Jakarta and Port Moresby with 19 branch of­fices through­out the re­gion.

Gov­ern­ment own­er­ship means that Aus­train­ing has ac­cess to spe­cial­ists from the full range of gov­ern­ment sec­tors and func­tions.

This en­com­passes ef­fec­tive pol­icy de­vel­op­ment pro­cesses, up- to- date in­for­ma­tion sys­tems, ac­count­able man­age­ment and pro­fes­sional hu­man re­sources ad­min­is­tra­tion that is all in­ter­na­tion­ally bench- marked.

With the qual­ity of ex­per­tise avail­able, Aus­train­ing adopts a co­op­er­a­tive approach to de­vel­op­ment as­sis­tance with an es­tab­lished net­work of more than 600 part­ner or­gan­i­sa­tions in Aus­tralia, Asia and the Pa­cific.

In ad­di­tion to gov­ern­ment min­istries, the net­work in­cludes spe­cial­ist in­sti­tutes, univer­si­ties, private sec­tor or­gan­i­sa­tions and NGOs, en­abling Aus­train­ing to form part­ner­ships with or­gan­i­sa­tions with world class spe­cial­ists and ex­pe­ri­ence in­ter­ested in con­tribut­ing to de­vel­op­ment as­sis­tance.

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