Why diasporas? – Diasporas in action

Why diasporas?

Why diasporas?

While European and North American aid and development sectors have been engaging with such groups for the past decade, their Australian counterparts are only now beginning to be recognised for their significant contributions. The Diasporas in Action conference will bring together scholars, development and humanitarian NGOs, government representatives, diaspora practitioners and Australian society in general to enhance dialogue and understanding of the role of diasporas in development, peacebuilding and humanitarian response. Such a conference—both in topic and scope—has never before been held in this country.

In recent years, diaspora organisations have become increasingly visible players on the global stage, involved in projects ranging from peacebuilding, advocacy, humanitarian assistance and post-conflict reconstruction projects. Australian diaspora groups have successfully built schools in villages and increased the percentage of female students; improved local economies through job creation; and promoted respect for human rights. They do all this armed with local knowledge—and often on shoestring budgets.

Read more – Diasporas in Action Conference concept note

Diasporas in Australia

Australia is home to large and varied diaspora populations, with a quarter of the population born outside of Australia and 49% of the population with a parent born overseas1 . Australia’s overseas-born populations come predominantly from the Asia Pacific region and Europe, but with sizeable Middle Eastern and African communities. It is clear that diaspora activity in this country mirrors international trends, with a plethora of diaspora-led organisations dedicated to health, education, livelihoods, child protection, peace building and reconciliation.

However, the full potential of diaspora organisations is only beginning to be systematically explored in Australia. Insufficient understanding of the nature and impact of diaspora-led development and humanitarian response – its strengths, challenges and potential – is a contributing factor to the slow responses of government and development agencies in recognising the work that these organisations do and the value and expertise that could be accessed through engaging with them.

The Diasporas in Action conference will provide a unique opportunity for researchers, practitioners, students, policy makers, and the broader civil society to share insights, good practice and lessons learned. This discussion promises to benefit the Australian development and humanitarian response and contribute to an international dialogue through the experiences of diasporas based in Australia and the region.