Mr Bill Tweddell -Australian Ambassador to the Philippines

MANILA, AUGUST 4, 2013 (PHILSTAR) By Bill Tweddell -  Development assistance is a big part of what Australia does in the Philippines. But I don’t often get the chance to explain why and how Australia provides development assistance here. So I wanted to take the opportunity presented by this column to do just that. It’s a subject about which I am passionate.

In short, Australia is here in the Philippines to make a difference. A range of Australian Government agencies provide development assistance of one form or another in the Philippines, but by far the largest and most prominent is the Australian Agency for International Development, AusAID.

AusAID’s commitment to the Philippines is worth about $120 million every year. This is a significant sum. So why do we do it? What is in it for Australian taxpayers?

First and foremost Australia’s development assistance aims to address poverty. Aussies may be a laconic bunch but we generally believe in the idea of a ‘fair go’ — that is, that everyone deserves the same access to opportunity.

In the Philippines we support the Philippine Government in providing a ‘fair go’ to all Filipinos.

For example, in the last year we have established over four hundred schools in remote communities in Mindanao, providing 12,000 children with their first opportunity to go to school.

There’s also another reason we provide aid. Namely, because a more stable and prosperous Philippines contributes to the stability and prosperity of our region. It’s therefore in our interest too.

Australia’s focus on our neighbourhood is explicit: seventy-five percent of Australia’s aid goes to Asia and the Pacific.

I also want to comment on how Australia provides aid.

The Philippines is a middle-income country. Annually, Australia’s development assistance amounts to only 0.2 percent of the Philippine Government’s budget. We have no wish to replicate the services the Philippine Government already provides. But we can provide expertise to support the Philippine Government in improving its own service delivery.

We concentrate on the sectors where we can make a difference. Here, three sectors on which we focus are education, governance and disaster risk reduction.

In the education sector, we are seeking to help the government improve the quality of and access to elementary and secondary education and completion rates for all Filipino children. We are right behind the Philippines in its commitment to an internationally competitive education.

In the governance sector, Australian aid seeks to give local government units the tools to improve transparency and accountability, helping LGUs to provide services more efficiently and effectively.

In disaster risk management, Australia is working to ensure that the Philippines’ poorest and most vulnerable communities can become more resilient to the impacts of disasters and climate change.

Of course, this is just a selection of Australia’s development assistance efforts in the Philippines. We hope that in all our efforts here, we respond to the needs of communities and governments, to build genuine and lasting partnerships. I’m pleased to hear from my Philippine counterparts that it is the quality of Australia’s partnership that sets us apart.

Over the coming months, I hope to use this column to explain Australia’s development efforts in more detail. In the meantime, supporting the reform efforts of the Aquino Administration, Australia will continue to do our bit to make a difference.

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Speech by Ambassador Bill Tweddell "Connect With Australia" – Philippine Australian Alumni Networking Reception Dusit Thani Hotel 6:00M-9:00PM, 26 June 2013

Good evening and Welcome to “Connect With Australia.”

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all tonight, most especially Filipino alumni of Australian universities and institutions. Tonight is your night as we celebrate your accomplishments as a result of your Australian education.

I’m sure you all are excited to see your fellow alumni and to be re-connecting once again with one another. And that is why our event tonight is called “Connect with Australia.” Together with the Philippine Australian Alumni Association, it is our aim to bring alumni together in a spirit of friendship and purpose. Australia places a high value on its partnerships in the Philippines. And for us this means investing in quality engagements, where we can truly make a difference. The Australia Philippines Alumni Association means a great deal to us in this context.

Some of you will know how passionate I am about alumni and alumni networks. You, unlike me, will be Ambassadors for Australia for the rest of your lives.

I’m sure you have had wonderful experiences as students in Australia, or as students pursuing an Australian study program in the Philippines. And we would like to add to that through this event.

There are presently 5,000 Filipino students studying in Australia. Over the past 5 years, more than 13,000 Filipinos graduated in Australia in varying levels of study, from certificate all the way to post graduate degrees. In recent years, we have also had graduates from Australian courses offered in the Philippines. There are 11 active partnerships between Australian and Philippine institutions. This is a welcome development for Australia as we value Filipino students for their diligence, ability to adapt well in a multicultural environment, and warm and friendly manner. That’s why I am glad to see you all here tonight in the Philippines practising what you have learned and contributing to your home country using your Australian education to make a difference in this wonderful country.

You have distinguished yourselves in your respective fields. You have achieved a “Future Unlimited,” which is Australia’s international brand for our education offerings. “Future Unlimited” conveys vast potential and opportunities available as a result of an Australian education. Education underpins our innovation – Australian inventions such as the heart pacemaker, commercial Wi-fi, Google maps, and the cervical cancer vaccine, were a result of our strong focus on research and development in our universities and colleges. For a country with a small population, I’m proud to say we have produced 15 Nobel Prize laureates who were educated in Australia. I’m sure you too can attest to the quality of Australian education – you are living proof of it.

You will be glad to know that the Australian Embassy is actively encouraging more Filipinos to study in Australia. We have recently re-launched the “Future Unlimited – Study in Australia” website which you now see on-screen behind me. The new website has more interactive features and a vibrant design. It also features stories from alumni which we will expand on in the future to show your own stories. We would like to ask for your assistance in promoting the “Future Unlimited” website as well as sharing your experiences to family and friends interested to study in Australia.

We have an exciting evening planned for you. We have Ms Carla Dunareanu to sing for us. Thank you very much to our valued partner Qantas, who are going to raffle off a return ticket to Australia later tonight. We also have a lovely buffet set tonight with Australian beef, wine, beer and cheese – which I’m sure you will all enjoy.

Thank you all for attending and we trust that you have a wonderful time tonight.

(Bill Tweddell is the Ambassador of Australia.)

For more information on Australia’s aid program in the Philippines, visit or

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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