26 Jun 2014

Aust aid changes worry Tonga NGO

2:36 pm on 26 June 2014

Tonga's Civil Society Forum says it is concerned a focus on private sector involvement in aid by the Australian government may lead to further suffering of vulnerable people.

Chairman Drew Havea says small island states in the Pacific do not have strong private sectors and he is concerned if there is a reliance on the trickle down effect.

He says there needs to be a balanced appoach as he's worried the changes may slow development and more people could become vulnerable in the meantime.

"We have a responsibility to work with our marginalised populations; the poor, people with disabilities, old aged. Some of the programmes, the social programmes that try to assist the vulnerable populations and I think some of those programmes are going to suffer."

Tonga's Civil Society Forum Chairman, Drew Havea, says he would welcome the chance to sit down with Australian representatives and discuss aid issues as Tonga tries to move forward.