Current projects

The following is a list of some of our major ongoing projects at the Centre. This list is not exhaustive — see our publications and the Devpolicy Blog for more of our outputs and analysis.

Australian aid

Funding for our Australian aid projects comes from the Harold Mitchell Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Australian Aid Tracker
Launched on 27 January 2016, the Australian Aid Tracker draws on a range of data and Devpolicy analysis, and uses a variety of visualisation and charting tools to help bring the numbers on Australian aid to life. It’s an independent, user-friendly and up-to-date look at Australian aid, intended to serve as a resource for journalists, advocates, policymakers and politicians, and interested members of the public. The Aid Tracker will be expanded and updated as new data becomes available.

Australian aid stakeholder survey
In 2013, Devpolicy ran the first aid stakeholder survey, a tool designed to obtain independent feedback on the perceived effectiveness of the Australian aid program by those who know it best. The survey solicited data primarily from representatives of large Australian NGOs and development contracting companies, but also gathered input from officials working within multilateral organisations, partner governments and Australian government agencies, independent consultants, academics and members of the general public. The survey asks respondents what they thought about the Australian aid program, what they liked, what they didn’t like, what they thought the future of aid was and what needed to be done to improve Australian aid.

We repeated the survey in the second half of 2015, using the same methods and asking similar questions. Over 460 stakeholders responded – a 30 per cent increase on the 2013 survey. The results, released at the 2016 Australasian Aid Conference, indicated that while many stakeholders still believe that the Australian aid program is effective, most think that its performance has deteriorated significantly over the last two years.

In 2015 we also ran an aid stakeholder survey for the first time in New Zealand, where the aid program has experienced considerable change in recent years. This report was launched in Wellington in March 2016. By repeating the surveys over time we will develop a long-term picture of the effectiveness of the two major aid donors in our region.

Public opinion and aid
Through the analysis of existing data as well as through commissioning new survey questions and experiments, Devpolicy is in the process of building a comprehensive understanding of what Australians think about aid, what types of traits are associated with support for aid, and the extent to which public support for aid is prone to being shifted by the way aid work is discussed and portrayed. The first output of this project was the Devpolicy Discussion Paper ‘Putting Our Money Where Our Mouths Are? Donations to NGOs and Support for ODA in Australia’ which found that support for aid was highest in parts of Australia where a high proportion of the population had a tertiary education, and in parts which tended to lean politically to the left. The study also found that the parts of Australia which were most supportive of government aid also tended to be the parts of Australia where donations to aid NGOs were most common. Subsequent discussion papers have collated public surveys about public opinion on aid between 2011 and 2015 (Discussion Paper 40), and examined the individual attributes of Australians who are most supportive of giving government ODA (Discussion Paper 44).

Upcoming work will build on this knowledge base. Working with partners from NGOs and campaign groups as well as academic colleagues both in Australia and overseas, we will collect new data on the Australian public’s knowledge around aid effectiveness, poverty, and development progress. We also plan to conduct experimental research that assesses the impacts of framing and priming on support for aid, and to gather data on New Zealand public opinion on aid.

Australian aid profiles
Our Aid Profiles series, launched in February 2016, aims to showcase individuals who have made a significant contribution to the cause of international development which inspires others, which is of lasting and significant value, which has a link to Australia, and which has not yet been adequately recognised.

Mitchell Humanitarian Award
The Aid Profiles also serve as a shortlist for the Mitchell Humanitarian Award. This new accolade, awarded annually, includes a $10,000 donation to a charity of the awardee’s choice. The first winner of the award was Dr Robyn Alders, announced in February 2017 at the Australasian Aid Conference. This project is made possible with the generous support of the Harold Mitchell Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Nominations for both the Award and the Aid Profiles are invited – please send to

History of Australian aid
We supported one of our Centre Associates, Dr Jack Corbett (Associate Professor of Politics at Southampton University), to write a history of Australian aid. The book, Australia’s foreign aid dilemma: humanitarian aspirations confront democratic legitimacy, was published in 2017.

The PNG Project

Devpolicy researchers and collaborators work in a range of partnerships with important Papua New Guinea institutions, principally the University of Papua New Guinea (UPNG) and the National Research Institute (NRI). The PNG Project provides the framework for linking together the diverse range of ongoing research and educational efforts that we are engaged in, including the projects which follow below. The main funder for this work is the Australian aid program.

ANU-UPNG partnership
Devpolicy leads a partnership between UPNG’s School of Business and Public Policy (SBPP) and Crawford School of Public Policy, supported by the Australian aid program under the Pacific Leadership and Governance Precinct. The focus of the partnership, which is managed by Dr Mike Cookson, is on faculty strengthening; developing collaborative research and outreach; and supporting faculty and student exchanges between UPNG and ANU. We currently have five staff based at UPNG SBPP: Ms Tatia Currie, Dr Manoj Pandey, Dr Marcel Schröder, Dr Lhawang Ugyel and Dr Amanda Watson.

NRI partnership
With the National Research Institute (NRI), Devpolicy is involved in a number of research projects concerning infrastructure service delivery in the Pacific. Current joint research includes work on road management reform in PNG, led by Dr Matthew Dornan, and a project on the employment and skills development effects of the PNG LNG project, led by Dr Carmen Voigt-Graf, a Devpolicy Fellow formerly based at NRI.

Education and health case studies
Building on the Promoting Effective Public Expenditure (PEPE) Project (2012-2015), Dr Grant Walton is leading case study research on selected schools and health facilities in PNG in partnership with colleagues at UPNG. This research is expected to develop a more nuanced understanding of the geographical, economic, social and administrative factors that shape performance in service delivery settings.

Family and sexual violence
Femili PNG is a PNG-based non-governmental organisation that runs a Case Management Centre to assist survivors of family and sexual violence to access the services they need. Femili PNG is managed by a committee of PNG and Australian stakeholders, in partnership with Oxfam and funded by the Australian aid program. The Development Policy Centre and the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health at ANU provide institutional support and are responsible for monitoring and evaluation and related research.

Papua New Guinean understandings of corruption
Sponsored by AusAID (now DFAT) and managed by Transparency International Papua New Guinea, this study involved over 1800 respondents across nine provinces of PNG who were asked about definitions, causes and reporting of corruption; respondents were also asked about the effectiveness of anti-corruption efforts. The resultant report, entitled Papua New Guinean Understandings of Corruption: Insights from a Nine-Province Study, authored by Grant Walton and Sarah Dix, was launched in November 2013. The report shows that while many Papua New Guineans are deeply concerned about corruption, there are major obstacles to fighting it. Analysis of the findings continues.

In early 2016, we were also awarded a two-year grant from the Australian Government aid program to conduct further research on state and societal responses to corruption in PNG. The project will see us collaborate with the University of Birmingham’s Developmental Leadership Program (DLP) to carry out an innovative experiment, integrity mapping, and a survey. This research will provide policymakers and others with recommendations on how to support anti-corruption efforts. Dr Grant Walton leads the project from our side, while Caryn Peiffer heads DLP’s engagement.

The Pacific

Aid and budget support in the Pacific
The Development Policy Centre has undertaken research on aid and budget support in the Pacific islands. The study on budget support was part of a broader Pacific-focused research agenda funded by the Asian Development Bank. It aimed to provide the first public stocktake of budget support to the Pacific, assess how the support of different development partners varies, and determine whether budget support has improved the overall effectiveness of ODA in the region. The study of aid examined trends and developments in the provision of ODA to the region over the last 30 years.

Pacific labour migration
Labour migration is key to the future of the Pacific, and has been an important research focus for Devpolicy for several years. The Development Policy Centre has undertaken two surveys of employers to investigate demand (and the lack of it) for Pacific seasonal workers in Australia: here and here. Our latest project was a paper on Pacific labour migration under the World Bank’s ‘Pacific Possible’ research agenda. The aim of the research was to set out a road map to greatly increase labour mobility opportunities for the Pacific, and to quantify the benefits from these reforms.

Global development policy

Impact evaluations
Visiting Fellow Dinuk Jayasuriya led a randomised control trial of a pilot program providing life skills training and internship opportunities for unemployed youth in the Philippines. The baseline survey has now been completed, with a sample size of more than 4000 people. Dinuk also led a study to evaluate the impacts of road rehabilitation undertaken by the Asian Development Bank in Sri Lanka. The sample included interviewing 2700 households and 300 businesses in 52 villages surrounding 16 roads. iPad technology was used to collect data and GPS technology used to illustrate respondent position.

A global humanitarian fund
The world is equipped with global investment vehicles for major infectious diseases, climate change and education. These function as finance aggregators and distributors, not as implementing organisations. They have the flexibility to attract finance from any source and to allocate it to any entity well placed to use it effectively. Their governance, institutional and replenishment arrangements help to focus high-level attention on the problems they exist to address. Robin Davies, in his March 2016 Policy Brief, argued that a global humanitarian fund was needed, with the capacity to allocate finance to all relevant actors, according to the circumstances.

Individual Deprivation Measure
Poverty is conventionally measured based on households, but doing so neglects differences in poverty levels within households, based on individual factors such as gender, age, and disability. This means we don’t understand poverty as well as we could. To address this challenge, Associates Sharon Bessell and Janet Hunt and colleagues across eighteen sites in six countries developed the Individual Deprivation Measure (IDM): a gender-sensitive measure of multi-dimensional poverty, grounded in the priorities and experiences of those who have experienced poverty. Find our more about the IDM here.

Updated:  25 February 2016/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  Devpolicy Admin