Australia’s big banks — ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, NAB and Westpac — have a history of backing agriculture and timber companies linked to land grabs in developing countries.
These land grabs in countries like PNG, Brazil and Cambodia force local people from their homes and farms without proper consent or compensation – leaving families homeless and without livelihoods.
All four banks claim to have responded to land grabs. Public and investor pressure led ANZ, NAB and Westpac to put in place new policies that recognise the risks to communities from land related projects. This is an important step. However, banks are still not doing enough to ensure communities who have lost their land and their livelihoods can get justice.
Oxfam has a new report with BankTrack Developing effective Grievance Mechanisms in the banking sector shows that banks need to do a lot more to make sure communities can raise their concerns and seek justice through compensation or other forms of redress. Currently none of the Australian banks have adequate practices to allow communities to raise a complaint.
Over 70% of the population of Timor-Leste depends on land for their livelihoods and the vast majority of land is governed by customary mechanisms. It is deemed important for and is fundamental to social identity and the local worldview.
Oxfam in Timor-Leste’s Land and Inclusive Development program works in collaboration with local communities, networks and organisations to advocate for land justice for the people of Timor-Leste. The program strengthens the ability of people to understand and claim their rights. This enables them to participate in, monitor and influence the development processes that can potentially threaten their rights and impact their safety, livelihoods, families and wellbeing. This five year program (2015-2020) seeks to influence government policies and legislation.
The Land and Inclusive Development program has brought together local organisations and communities to advocate for positive change at the highest levels of government. A historic package of land legislation was passed by Timor-Leste’s parliament and formally endorsed by the president in 2017. Oxfam and Rede Ba Rai (Timor-Leste's National Land Network) have made a compelling contribution to this momentous win for human rights. This ground-breaking work leveraged change from local to national levels by mobilising a powerful network of change-makers and activating a strategic program of advocacy, knowledge building and campaigning initiatives.
Oxfam in Timor-Leste and partners are committed to supporting the implementation and monitoring of the land laws, raising community awareness on the land laws, undertaking research to influence decision-making on related policy, and influencing the development of critical sub-legislation.
Rede ba Rai (Timor-Leste Land Network)
Rede Feto (Timor-Leste Women’s Network)