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When the Australian Defence Force (ADF), the Australian Federal Police (AFP), Australian government agencies and the aid community deploy overseas in response to natural or manmade disasters and complex emergencies, they will frequently operate in the same physical space as one another. A lack of understanding and confusion over stakeholder roles, responsibilities, cultures and terminologies can impede communication and coherent programs and lead to a less effective overall response to key population needs. Issues such as shrinkage of humanitarian space due to restrictions on humanitarian access; perceptions regarding subordination of humanitarian principles; the tensions that arise between political, humanitarian and military objectives within integrated multi-agency stabilisation efforts; and the increase in numbers of organisations and individuals operating in these environments all serve to add a degree of confusion and potential for discord. However, improved mutual understanding of the roles, mandates, principles and objectives of these stakeholders will enhance constructive engagement, dialogue and communication both prior to and during deployments. With this dialogue and communication comes greater opportunity to achieve maximum benefits for people and nations affected by natural disasters and conflict.
To this end, the Asia Pacific Civil-Military Centre of Excellence (APCMCOE) and the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID), in collaboration with the ADF, AFP, the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), Australian non government organisations (NGOs), and the Australian Red Cross have developed the document, Same Space—Different Mandates. Building and expanding upon a UK Ministry of Defence document, Same Space—Different Mandates aims to improve the collective understanding of the major stakeholders operating in international natural disasters and complex emergencies and through this, to create greater opportunity for constructive engagement amongst them. It is our hope that this document will infl uence policy and become an educational tool to support training and deployment preparation for all stakeholders as well as help inform better fi eld practices through improved collective dial ogue, communication and interaction.