Australian aid program ‘haemorrhaging skills’ after DFAT merger

The assimilation of AusAID into the Department of Foreign Affairs has seen decades of public service experience walk out the door, insiders tell The Mandarin.

There are concerns that a “haemorrhaging of skills” resulting from the dissolution of AusAID into the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will undermine Australia’s aid program into the future.

The simultaneous merger and aid budget cuts have led to a large number of DFAT staff applying for voluntary redundancies, most of whom are former AusAID employees. Aid experts suggest that, although the merger and cuts will make Australia’s aid program cheaper, it may also end up less efficient.

As of May 22, 149 non-SES and 12 SES post-integration DFAT staff had been approved for voluntary redundancies, while three more SES employees were expected to go in the following weeks. Twelve of the 15 SES employees leaving are formerly of AusAID; overall 60% of those applying are former AusAIDers. It’s expected that around 500 jobs will eventually go, mostly comprising former AusAID workers.

According to a DFAT staff satisfaction survey from May, 70% of pre-integration DFAT staff agreed that they felt “part of the team”, compared to only 33% of former AusAID staff.

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