Whatever your political leaning and your views on the Liberal party machinations last week, I wanted to acknowledge the outstanding personal passion, commitment, support and contribution that I have experienced from former Ministers Julie Bishop and Concetta Fierravanti-Wells to the Australian Volunteers Program and international development more broadly, especially in the Pacific.
Both have worked extremely hard, travelled extensively and represented Australia admirably abroad. In being a great advocate of the program, where ever she went, Senator Fierravanti-Wells always met and spent time with Australia volunteers to hear about them and their assignments.
In their time, both have noted to me that the Australian Volunteers Program is the ‘heart and soul’ of Australia’s overseas development assistance, or Australian Aid program. And on these occasions, I have added ‘head’, given the high levels of expertise, development outcomes and value for money that Australian volunteers provide.
I look forward to working with their successors, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Marise Payne, and Assistant Minister for International Development, Anne Ruston.