National Action Plan: Australia

Flag of Australia The Australian government launched its first NAP on International Women’s Day in 2012, for the period starting in 2012–2018. The development of the NAP was led by the Australian Government Office for Women, which was tasked with convening the Women, Peace and Security Inter Departmental Working Group. The government undertook extensive Civil Society engagement leading up to and during the development of the NAP, including with WILPF-Australia. Given that the Australian NAP was only adopted in March 2012, the NAP document devotes considerable attention to what Australia has already been doing to support the full implementation of UNSCR 1325. The actual action plan is relatively unique in that it has actions that correspond to more than one priority area. The NAP also commits the Australian Government to report to the Federal Parliament on implementation progress every two years. 

Australia has no recent history of armed conflict and does not face any external threats. As such, the Australian NAP has a primarily external focus, and is aimed at mainstreaming gender and implementing UNSCR 1325 particularly as related to peace operations and engagement in fragile states and conflict-affected situations. Australia is a key contributor to UN peacekeeping operations and NATO military missions, and provides international humanitarian relief and development assistance. This includes peacekeeping missions in East Timor, regional assistance missions in the Solomon Islands, and humanitarian support and law enforcement to indigenous communities. Critical issues of concern include limited women's leadership in senior positions in the police, military, parliament, and public offices. This is particularly relevant for indigenous women.

Australia recognises that determined and coordinated efforts are required to respond to the needs and promote the protection and participation of women and girls in fragile, conflict and post-conflict situations. To consolidate the important work already underway in Australia and take the next step, the Australian Government developed a National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security. However, the actions and monitoring and evaluation framework of the NAP does not address disarmament issues, or connect the proliferation of weapons to women’s insecurity. The Australian NAP also does not include an allocated or estimated budget, and there are no other financial resource consideration references within the NAP.

 

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Australia analysis: Miller, Pournik, Swaine

Fourth Annual Civil Society Report Card: Australia’s National Action Plan On Women, Peace And Security

WILPF

WILPF Australia was instrumental throughout all stages of the NAP development by lobbying and informing the process. In 2004 WILPF Australia received funding from the Australian Government Office for Women to develop a website promoting UN Security Council Resolution 1325 and produce a discussion paper outlining recommendations for the national implementation of UNSCR 1325.

In 2009, in partnership with UN Women and other organizations, WILPF initiated national consultations to inform the Australian government on the next steps of NAP development. These consultations witnessed the participation of almost 90 community and national organizations, and were held in all Australian capital cities. The findings and recommendations of these consultations were presented to the Australian Government in a Final Civil Society Report. Following these consultations, WILPF put forward a proposal to the government, and the development of a NAP was included as one of ten top priority areas of action for women.

WILPF Australia collaborated with the NGO Working Group to produce a detailed written submission to the Consultation Draft of the NAP. The Australian Young-WILPF section, which was formed in 2011, also provided a detailed submission. WILPF and Young-WILPF Australia took part in the NGO roundtable discussions, which included representatives from the government’s Inter-Departmental Working Group. Although no specific role is designated to NGOs in implementing, monitoring, or reviewing the NAP with the exception of relevant government departments for NGO programs and provision for one meeting of the Interdepartmental Working Group with two or three representatives from civil society who meet once a year. WILPF and ACFID represented civil society at the one meeting with the Working Group last year.

Due to the lack of provision for civil society involvement in monitoring and reviewing, WILPF initiated a series of video/teleconferences with all organizations interested in the NAP to discuss ideas for formulating a process for civil society involvement in monitoring the NAP. This resulted in the forming of the Australian Civll Society Coalition on Women, Peace and Security (ACSCWPS)- which supports the NAP. In 2012 WILPF Australia established an ongoing 1325 working group, which is tasked with overseeing NAP implementation and producing a shadow monitoring report during review phases of the NAP. 

Civil Society Actors

Australian women have been very active in peace and anti-war movements through organizations such as WILPF, the Women's Peace Army, and the Sisterhood of International Peace. Despite the salience of war and military mythologies, women’s peace organizations continue to play an important role in lobbying against regional and domestic military expansion and the deposition of nuclear waste on indigenous lands, and promoting gender perspectives in peace and security discourse. Women’s Civil Society Organizations such as WILPF have been instrumental in lobbying for national implementation of UNSCR 1325 and continue to be important in monitoring and promoting NAP implementation.

NAP Development
The Australian Government consulted Civil Society in developing the NAP, and provided funding for Civil Society led national consultations and the development of a discussion paper. Some 90 grassroots and national organizations participated in both processes, the consultations and the steps leading up to the the discussion paper. . Following this process, the Government's Inter-Departmental Working Group produced a Consultation Draft of the NAP and invited Civil Society Organizations to provide written submissions and participate in NGO-government roundtable discussions in the national capital.

NAP Implementation
Non-governmental organisations have played an instrumental role in the development of the National Action Plan and are critical of its implementation. In its NAP, the Australian Government commits itself to work collaboratively with the non-governmental sector to realize the goals and commitments outlined in the NAP. The NAP itself commits to supporting civil society organizations to promote equality and increase women's participation.

NAP Monitoring and Evaluation
The Australian NAP invites organizations to nominate a selection of representatives to meet with the Government’s Inter-Departmental Working Group which focuses on Women, Peace and Security issues each year to share information, discuss progress and exchange ideas about the implementation of the National Action Plan. The Steering Committee planning and organizing the Dialogue and Report Card are WILPF Australia, UN Women Committee Australia, the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID), in addition to these, the ANU Gender Institute of the Australian National University is also a part of the Steering Committee. The forming of the Australian Civil Society Coalition on Women, Peace, and Security thus supporting the implementation of the NAP. A civil society report card on Australia’s National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security will be produced annually until 2018. A total of six Annual Civil Society Report Cards will comprise the full shadow report. A copy of the current report card can be found attached below. The NAP also encourages Civil Society to develop shadow reports of the NAP implementation, which the Government will make publicly available.

Government Actors

NAP Development
The development of the NAP was led by Australian Government Office for Women, which was tasked with convening the Women, Peace and Security Inter Departmental Working Group. The Women, Peace, and Security Inter Departmental Working Group included representatives from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), the Department of Defence, AGD Attorney General’s Department, AusAID, Australian Centre for Civil-Military Relations and Australian Federal Police (AFP), as well as Office for Women.

NAP Implementation
The Women, Peace and Security Inter-Departmental Working Group will continue to operate as the primary Australian Government mechanism responsible for Australia’s implementation of UNSCR 1325.

NAP Monitoring and Evaluation 
The Women, Peace and Security Inter-Departmental Working Group will meet biannually to discuss the National Action Plan and have high level representation from all key agencies (listed above).

Objectives

The Australian NAP is organized into five Thematic Areas that are designed to reflect UNSCR 1325 and related resolutions, as well as the UN 2008–2009 System-wide Action Plan. These Thematic Areas include: Prevention, Participation, Protection, Relief and Recovery, and Normative.

A number of the Actions outlined in the NAP cut across the five thematic areas. As a result, the areas of Action have been organized into Strategies:

  • Strategic Objective 1: Integrate a gender perspective into Australia’s policies on peace and security.
  • Strategy Objective 2: Embed the Women, Peace and Security agenda in the Australian Government’s approach to human resource management of Defence, Australian Federal Police and deployed personnel.
  • Strategic Objective 3: Support civil society organizations to promote equality and increase women’s participation in conflict prevention, peace-building, conflict resolution, and relief and recovery.
  • Strategic Objective 4: Promote Women, Peace and Security implementation internationally.
  • Strategy Objective 5: Take a co-coordinated and holistic approach domestically and internationally to Women, Peace and Security.
Action/Activities

Each Strategic Objective of the Australian NAP includes a series of actions for practically achieving these goals, which are also categorized by thematic area.

For Example, Strategic Objective 3 “Support civil society organizations to promote equality and increase women’s participation in conflict prevention, peace-building, conflict resolution, and relief and recovery” contains the following actions:

  • Support domestic non-government organizations, such as the National Women’s Alliances, and international civil society organizations to engage in peace and security initiatives, including by raising awareness of UNSCR 1325.
  • Support Australian and international civil society organizations to promote the roles and address the needs of women in the prevention, management and resolution of conflict.
  • Invite Australian non-government organizations to nominate a selection of representatives to meet with the Women, Peace and Security Inter-departmental Working Group once a year.
  • Encourage an understanding of Women, Peace and Security amongst the Australian public.
Timeframe
The Australian NAP covers the time period 2012 to 2018. No specific timeframes are set for Actions. However, there is a series of deadlines scheduled for reporting and review (see Monitoring and Evaluation, below).
Budget
The Australian NAP does not include an allocated or estimated budget and there are no other financial resource consideration references within the NAP. However, it does note that the absence of dedicated funding and exclusion of earmarked funds within existing departmental budgets is a key concern for successful NAP implementation and accountability. This issue was raised by Civil Society throughout all stages of consultation.
Indicators

The Australia NAP lists measures associated with each strategic objective in its monitoring and evaluation framework. These range from measurable and specific to non-measurable and vague, and are principally qualitative in nature.

Example taken from Strategy 4: Promote Women, Peace and Security Implementation Internationally:

Measure A: Description of international assistance provided for activities pertaining to Women, Peace and Security 

Measure E: Number and description of interventions and support of resolutions and policy in the UN Security Council, General Assembly, UN Human Rights Council and other relevant fora addressing Women, Peace and Security issues

Monitoring & Evaluation

A full Monitoring and Evaluation Framework is included in the Australian NAP. It includes measures that are principally qualitative in nature and linked to accountable actors. These measures are neither attached to an allocated or estimated budget, nor timeframes for implementation.

The Monitoring and Evaluation Framework will be used for bi-annual reporting. The first review will be an interim review, which will focus on assessing whether the actions under the National Action Plan are still relevant. The interim review will also provide guidance for the remainder of the National Action Plan’s implementation, including advice on emerging issues related to Women, Peace and Security. The final review will take place as the National Action Plan approaches its expiry. It will assess the overall success of the National Action Plan and provide advice on the direction and focus of its revision/renewal. The review periods are scheduled as follows:

• Progress reports in 2014 and 2016
• Interim review in 2015 
• Final review in 2018

These reports will be tabled in parliament and made publicly available. Civil Society is also encouraged to develop shadow reports that will be made publicly available.

Disarmament
The Australian NAP narrative mentions Australia’s engagement in multilateral disarmament conventions and its support for implementation of resolutions on small arms control. However, the actions and monitoring and evaluation framework does not address disarmament issues, or connect the proliferation of weapons to women’s insecurity.