AVID Midwifery Preceptor Coach Dorinda Britto and Dr Soun Nimol (Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital) with midwifery students from the Technical School for Medical Care. Photo: Harjono Djoyobisono
Since 1984, Australian Volunteers International has maintained continuous and diverse support for Cambodia following the devastation from decades of war. Volunteers have been placed through two programs:
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AVI’s program in Cambodia has a long and proud history. Since 1984 more than 300 Australian Volunteer assignments have been undertaken, with volunteers working alongside host organisations to achieve significant outcomes in the areas of governance, health, education, rural development and environment and infrastructure. The year 2014 marks our 30th year in Cambodia.
Main focus areas
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Improving health services
AVI assignments increase the capacity of local partners, strengthening their capabilities to better develop, implement and manage programs, on maternal health and disability inclusion. Through activities like training local midwives and providing non-formal educational program to the deaf community, volunteers are contributing to improved health outcomes for people living in Cambodia.
Promoting access to justice
AVI assignments contribute to strengthening the capacity of local lawyers and organisations in promoting an awareness of human rights through the development and delivery of various education and awareness campaigns. Quite a few assignments have been supporting the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (otherwise known as the ECCC, or the Khmer Rouge Tribunal)- as the first internationalised Court dealing with mass crimes that enables victims to apply as civil parties. The work of various AVI volunteers in this area over the years has been significant and as the ECCC winds down; our focus will continue to be on access to law and justice for the most vulnerable.
Through assignments that strengthen leadership, management ability and the technical skills of people in local civil society sectors, volunteers have contributed to improving governance in Cambodia. Support is provided in areas such as financial management, food security, community development, sustainability and community based management of natural resources, and the promotion of the rights of women and children. While Governance is a cross-cutting area of work for AVI in Cambodia, we are putting a lot of this focus in the Ratanakiri province with Indigenous People and their representative organisations
Where we work
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Phnom Penh, Takhmeo, Ratanakiri Battambang and Siem Reap
Host organisation examples
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The Kingdom of Cambodia, formerly under French protection, became fully independent in 1953. It is slowly benefitting from two decades of relative stability after the Khmer Rouge regime. Increasing foreign aid and support has helped the country’s rapid economic development.
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While Cambodia’s socio-economic position is not exceptional, it has at least maintained growth in recent years. Over the five-year period from 2007-2012, the population living below the poverty line was reduced from 30% to 22 %. However, closing the gap between the urban and rural population remains a challenge. Poverty in Cambodia is characterised by low income and consumption, poor nutritional status, low educational attainment, less access to public services including school and health services, less access to economic opportunities and exclusion from economic, social and political processes.
The adult literacy rate in Cambodia is 77.6 %. The expansion of primary education programs in rural areas has resulted in an increase in the net primary enrolment to 96% in 2011. However, low completion rates, low teacher salaries and short supply of teachers still remains a challenge.
Cambodia has met many targets set for reducing child mortality rates as part of the Millennium Development Goals and exceeded in some instances. The infant mortality decreased from 95 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2000 to 60 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2008 (already reaching its 2010 MDG target). Similarly, the under-five mortality rate has decreased to 83 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2005 (with a 2010 MDG target of 75). Although overall the situation has increased, child mortality rates vary between regions and require further attention. Along with this, high maternal mortality rates are still a challenge for the country.
Cambodia’s two major environmental problems relate to the country’s most important natural resources; its forests and marine life. Deforestation is the most serious threat to Cambodia's environment. Expansion of agriculture and other commercial plantations have caused a significant decrease in forest cover. Another main pressure felt by the forests is the increasing fuel wood dependency.
Overfishing and illegal fishing have also resulted in a decline in the fish stocks in Cambodia. Given that fish is one of the main staples of a typical Cambodian diet (along with rice), this is especially serious.
 CIA Factbook and HDR 2013
 USAID Cambodia
 HDR 2013
Belinda Delaney is working as a Non-Formal Education Advisor for Tiny Toones as part of AusAID’s Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) program.
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Host organisation profile
The Arbitration Council Foundation (ACF) in Cambodia, is a non-political, not for profit organisation which supports the operations of the Arbitration Council, an independent tribunal established by law to resolve collective labour disputes through arbitration.
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Official Language: Khmer
Capital: Phnom Penh
Adult literacy rate: 77.6%
HDI index: 138
Life expectancy: 63
Adult HIV prevalence rate: 0.5%
GDP per capita: $2,400
Unemployment rate: 3.4%
Maternal mortality rate: 250/100,000 live births
Child mortality rate under 5: 83 per 1,000 births
AVI placements: 334 (as of December 2012)
Last updated: July 2013
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