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‘Well off Australia’ has lessons for world on human development

14 April 2010

Australia is in a unique position to take a leadership role in human development strategies if it can unpack how it has managed to achieve high standards of wellbeing with its income base, Deakin University’s new Chair in International Development Professor Mark McGillivray said.

Australia is currently ranked second in the world in the 2009 Human Development Index (HDI), its best ranking ever.

The HDI ranks countries based on achievements in income, health and education. The index combines measures of life expectancy, literacy, school enrolment and GDP per capita and is calculated for 182 countries and territories.

Professor McGillivray’s comments came as the University’s Alfred Deakin Research Institute (ADRI) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) held the Australian launch of UNDP’s Human Development Report 2009, the theme of which is Overcoming barriers: Human mobility and development (Wednesday 14 April). Dr Jeni Klugman, lead author of the Human Development Report, led the discussion.

“In an unequal world, the 2009 Human Development Report explores how policies on mobility and migration impact improvements in human development, finding that movement has the potential to improve people’s lives, especially for the poorest,” Dr Klugman said.

“Migrants and their families as well as source and destination communities can all benefit, yet there are many obstacles and challenges that must be overcome.”

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Human Development Report. A key part of the day will be the Australian consultations on the UNDP Human Development Report 2010. The theme of this report is 20 Years on: Pushing the Frontiers of Human Development.

The 2010 report will look systematically at trends in human development over the past several decades, measure progress and examine how to take the richness of the human development approach forward.

“By looking at the trends of the past in human development, the 2010 Human Development Report will start connecting the reasons why human development progresses farther in some countries and not in others to provide a base for how to improve human development and its measurement around the world,” Dr Klugman said.

Professor McGillivray said the 2009 launch and the 2010 consultations were among the most important international development events in Australia in 2010.

Australia's Parliamentary Secretary for International Development Assistance Hon Bob McMullan will speak at the launch. A second consultation, jointly hosted by ADRI and the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID), was held in Canberra on 13 April.

Professor Mark McGillivray, who recently commenced at Deakin, said Australia ranked 22nd in the index in terms of its income, fifth in terms of the life expectancy of its population and equal first in terms of educating its population.

“There are potential lessons there from Australia for the rest of the world at converting income into higher health and education levels.

“There is a lot of potential here, if we can understand this ourselves and explain it to the rest of the world.”

Professor McGillivray said he was looking forward to his new role with ADRI which would involve building the Institute’s research and policy strengths in international development.

“There are few things that are more important than improving the quality of life for the poorest people in the poorest countries when 1.5billion people live in extreme poverty," he said.

News facts
  • Australia is currently ranked second in the world in the 2009 Human Development Index (HDI)
  • 2009 Human Development Report launched by ADRI explores how policies on mobility and migration impact improvements in human development
  • Australia is in a unique position to take a leadership role in human development strategies, says Deakin's new Chair of Human Development

Media contact

Professor Mark McGillivray
Chair in International Development, ADRI
03 522 78011
mark.mcgillivray@deakin.edu.au

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14th April 2010