28 Mar 2011

Australian aid reporting misleading, says NGO

2:24 pm on 28 March 2011

The umbrella organisation for NGOs in Australia, the Australian Council for International Development, says recent media reports on aid spending are misleading and disappointing.

Australian newspapers have published reports of millions of aid dollars being squandered on non-wage running costs, such as office refurbishments and taxis.

The Herald Sun says AusAID has 175 fraud cases under investigation across 27 countries including 71 in Papua New Guinea and 19 in Solomon Islands.

AusAID maintains those cases cover a seven year period and the misspending amounts to just 3.4 million dollars out of a total expenditure of 20 billion dollars.

The Council's Dr Susan Harris Rimmer says AusAID's systems are robust and its standards rigorous.

"It's a good thing that there's 175 reports and the main thing is is that their approach to fraud is it takes it very seriously, is dealing with the risk in an appropriate way and this is something that's of great interest to the not-for-profit sector. We're actually quite confident that AusAID is doing the right thing."

Dr Harris Rimmer says there are a range of areas in the region, such as maternal and infant health, where aid is making a big difference and the public musn't lose faith in aid objectives.