First steps have been taken to put into place a 5-year project between Monash and Oxfam Australia , to build links between the two institutions and to particularly, to support the improvement of Oxfam’s services on the ground. I will be one of the team from the Monash side of things, and I hope to be able to influence Monash to distinguish itself in actively supporting social justice and social change internationally. The commitment of a donor in substantially supporting this large project has to be applauded and I hope it attracts others to support the project as it develops.
A search conference was held with key Oxfam Australia staff from around the Pacific, Asia, and Australia and Monash researches in mid-September. The talent is extraordinary, and I anticipate a number of exiting innovations in research and practice to be set in place shortly. A key value is that the communities development affects are in driver’s seat, offering ‘bottom up leadership’. It’s great challenge that could change how both Oxfam and Monash conduct a lot of their work, teaching and research.
In particular, the project will focus on the following areas
* Accountability – to develop strategy for gathering more effective feedback from communities we serve and to fix the broken feedback loops in aid more generally
* Climate change adaptation – to support community led adaptation to the impacts of climate change
* Gender equality – to address issues around culture and women’s leadership.
It will be an opportunity to combine theory and practice and work with people from many disciplines as well as Oxfam staff to improve international development though an interdisciplinary approach that could result in a new body of understandings and practices for university NGO cooperation. Stay tuned for many exciting details and activities. I was recently in South Africa where I had the privilege of visiting some projects on the ground, including the Hillcrest Aids Trust in Durban, where Monash students volunteer. It was a very moving occasion for me, and know that are students prepared to work with people in their final stage of life leaves me humbled. I am sure that many other thinks I will learn and document will be similarly moving, and important for people to know and be inspired by in social change and development work between a first world institution and people in great need.
For more details, see this press release