Under the Electoral Act, the AEC is required to provide, in cases approved by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, assistance in matters relating to elections and referendums (including secondment of personnel and the supply or loan of materiel) to authorities of foreign countries and organisations.
In cases approved by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, the AEC provides assistance to authorities of foreign countries or to foreign organisations in matters relating to elections and referendums. The AEC assistance may include the secondment of personnel and the supply or loan of materiel.
This work involves the development and implementation of the Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections (BRIDGE) capacity development curriculum; provision of electoral advice and assistance in the Asia–Pacific region; secondments; observer missions; participation in international forums and delegations; and cooperation with other Australian Government agencies.
Table 27 summarises the AEC's results against the performance information set out for Program 2.6 in the 2009–10 Portfolio Budget Statements.
|Key performance indicators||Targets||Results|
|International assistance by the AEC meets the goals specified for individual projects undertaken||Stakeholders are fully satisfied||All specified goals were met. Feedback from stakeholders on the way the AEC met its commitments was overwhelmingly positive.|
BRIDGE is an international collaboration that provides a high-quality education package to build the capacity of electoral administrators. The AEC is the lead agency in the partnership (founding partners), which includes the United Nations Electoral Assistance Division; the United Nations Development Programme; the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance; and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, the leading United States–based provider of electoral assistance.
Since the partnership began, in 2002, BRIDGE workshops have been conducted in 53 countries for approximately 6 000 participants. Those totals include train-the-facilitator workshops conducted in 25 countries for approximately 1 000 participants. Various parts of the BRIDGE curriculum materials have been translated into Arabic, Armenian, Indonesian, Spanish and Tetum.
The rapid growth of interest in BRIDGE was demonstrated by the continuing increase in 2009–10 in the number of visitors to the BRIDGE website (www.bridge-project.org), which is maintained by the AEC.
In June 2010, BRIDGE won the 2010 United Nations Public Service Award in the category of 'Improving the delivery of public services', the most prestigious international recognition of excellence in public service.
Among the other achievements of BRIDGE in 2009–10:
The development of new curriculum materials addressing issues of democracy and governance continued, with funding support from AusAID and the United Nations Democracy Fund. A foundation module was piloted in Paro, Bhutan.
The AEC continued to host the secretariat for the Pacific Islands, Australia and New Zealand Electoral Administrators' Network (PIANZEA). The network was established in 1997 to facilitate links between election management bodies in the region.
The AEC also continued to provide targeted advice and assistance to countries in the Asia–Pacific region, as summarised in Table 28.
|East Timor||A Timorese citizen (who had previously worked for AusAID, and undertaken a work placement with the AEC in Canberra, and a secondment to East Timor's Technical Secretariat for Electoral Administration) became the AEC's first locally employed team leader in a foreign country.|
|Indonesia||The AEC conducted a successful ongoing electoral assistance program focusing on capacity development programs, based in Jakarta. Feedback from the relevant Indonesian government bodies indicated that the assistance continued to be both valued and welcomed.|
|Palau||Following a feasibility study conducted in June 2009, the AEC's generic voter registration system was tailored to the needs of, and provided to, the Palau Election Commission.|
|Papua New Guinea||The AEC continued to be represented on the program board for AusAID's Electoral Support Program in Papua New Guinea. The AEC has reached agreement with AusAID and the Papua New Guinea Electoral Commission to undertake further assistance activities up to January 2011. In May 2010 a meeting of the Melanesian Voter Registration Working Party was held in Port Moresby. The meeting was organised and facilitated by AEC officers and attended by participants from Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu.|
|Solomon Islands||The AEC continued to be represented on the Program Management Committee and Program Advisory Group for AusAID's Electoral System Strengthening Program. In September 2009 a meeting of the Melanesian Voter Registration Working Party was organised and facilitated by the AEC in Honiara, with participants from Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.|
|Tonga||In March 2010, two AEC officers travelled to Nuku'alofa, Tonga, in response to a request from the Tongan government, to identify possible forms of Australian support for the legislative election due to be held in November 2010.|
The AEC's work in the Asia–Pacific region is funded mainly by AusAID, under a strategic partnership agreement. In May 2010, AusAID published Power to the people: Australia's support in strengthening political governance in developing countries, the report of an independent review of Australian support for strengthening political governance in developing countries. The report made many favourable observations about the AEC's contribution; for example:
The review consultations confirmed that AEC's international work is held in very high regard by countries in the Asia–Pacific region and by relevant international organisations. The Review Team was impressed by the professionalism and dedication of the AEC staff undertaking international work, by AEC's strong emphasis on building local electoral capacity, its commitment to long-term engagement, support for electoral processes as well as electoral events, and by its approach to networking and mentoring … The review confirmed that the AEC has a very good international reputation and has been achieving good results in strengthening electoral systems in the Asia–Pacific region over a long period …
Key success factors include building institutional capacity through long-term relationships, networks, cooperation with other donors and attachments/mentoring … The Review Team recommends that AusAID's electoral assistance continue to focus on long-term electoral cycle issues, drawing on the expertise of the AEC and working closely with in-country electoral management bodies to strengthen their capacity and sustainability.
During 2009–10, in a spirit of collaboration, AEC officers undertook short-term election-related projects overseas for the Austrian Study Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, the Carter Center, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, and the United Nations Development Programme. AEC officers were also made available to work with Cardno-Acil, the managing contractor for AusAID's Electoral Support Program in Papua New Guinea.
In July 2009, an AEC officer led the Australian delegation to the election visitor program for the Indonesian presidential election, which was organised by the Indonesian Foreign Ministry and the Institute for Peace and Democracy, Bali, under the umbrella of the Bali Democracy Forum. Participation in the program built on links with the Indonesian General Elections Commission (KPU) going back to 1999.
In May 2010, the Electoral Commissioner and the Assistant Commissioner Elections participated in the visitor program for the United Kingdom general election, hosted by the United Kingdom's Electoral Commission.
The AEC was able to share valuable electoral expertise by taking part in international forums and visiting counterpart organisations overseas.
The AEC welcomed the exchange of ideas by hosting visits to Australia by delegates from the electoral authorities of Bangladesh, Jordan and Zambia. Two visits were also hosted by the AEC for delegates from the National Election Commission of the Republic of Korea; during the second visit, the two organisations signed a memorandum of understanding as a basis for future cooperation.
Briefings were also provided to visiting delegations from China, Kenya, New Zealand, the United States and Vietnam.
In August 2009, an AEC officer gave a presentation to the Australian Defence College's Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies. In November 2009, an AEC officer gave a presentation to the Australian Defence Force Peacekeeping Centre's United Nations Military Observers Course. Also in November 2009, the AEC provided an officer to support the conduct of the Australian Defence College's Exercise Excalibur.
In July, September and October 2009, and in March and May 2010, AEC officers provided briefings as part of the pre-deployment training programs organised by the Australian Federal Police's International Deployment Group.