About Australia's aid program
Faithon and Mum Regina at the Well Baby Clinic in Port Moresby. AusAID is supporting the PNG Government to address infant
mortality by training more midwives and health workers. Photo: Jacqueline Smart, AusAID.
The Australian Government's overseas aid program is improving the lives of millions of people in developing countries. Australia is working with the governments and people of developing countries to deliver aid where it is most needed and most effective.
Australian aid has helped our neighbours and countries further abroad to develop, and our aid program continues to grow. For example, Australian aid has wiped out polio from the Pacific. Australian aid has seen more than 1.5 million children immunized against measles and polio in Papua New Guinea.
We helped build the first bridge across the Mekong River in East Asia, boosting economic opportunities for millions of people living in the region. And our water supply and sanitation programs are providing clean water for nearly 500,000 people in Tanzania, South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
Where we give aid
Australia's aid program focuses on the Asia Pacific region. We are internationally recognised for our leading role in the region, particularly in PNG and the Pacific. Our aid is even more important given two-thirds of the world’s poor—some 800 million people—live in the Asia Pacific, yet they receive less than one third of global aid. Australia also provides assistance to Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and the Caribbean. Our aid to Africa has increased significantly in recent years and now represents around five per cent of the aid program.
Poverty and aid
Despite a rapidly growing global population, the world has made solid progress in the fight against poverty. Over the past 40 years:
- a woman’s chance of dying during or after childbirth has dropped by 50 per cent
- the chance of an adult not being able to read has halved
- the average life expectancy in developing countries has increased by 20 years.
Australian aid has contributed to these achievements, making a difference to the lives of our neighbours and boosting growth and stability in our region.
Australian aid also improves our regional security. We help our partner governments to improve law and order. We help them to prevent and recover from conflict. We help them manage threats such as people trafficking, illicit drugs, HIV/AIDS and other diseases. Our own economic and security interests are better protected because we’re helping to build stronger communities and economies, and more stable governments.
Poverty remains a global challenge, however, with 1.4 billion people still living on less than $1.47 a day. A lack of clean water, food, housing, health care, education and economic opportunities remain obstacles for large numbers of people in neighbouring countries and in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.
Management of the aid program
The Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) manages the majority of Australia’s aid program. Other government agencies, such as the Australian Federal Police, help deliver the aid program too.
'Development assistance' refers to official development assistance (ODA), which is another term for aid.
The cost of Australia's aid program is around one per cent of Australian Government expenditure, compared to the 33 per cent spent on social security and welfare.
In 2011–12, Australia will provide $4.8 billion worth of official development assistance. The Australian Government continues to increase aid in line with other donor countries. By 2016–17 the annual aid figure is estimated to reach around $8–9 billion (0.5 per cent of Gross National Income).
How the aid program works
A Laotian school boy washes his hands with clean water from a water tank. Photo: Bart Verweij, AusAID.
Australia works with the governments of neighbouring countries to help them improve the way they deliver economic and community services.
Our aid is delivered through a variety of methods:
- through the delivery of goods and services (e.g. humanitarian relief, building health clinics and schools, immunising children)
- building local institutions through training of staff, improving management systems and institutional cultures
- policy dialogue and reform through ongoing discussions between Australian development advisers in the field and their local counterparts in government civil society and business.
Increasingly, we use partner government systems. This way our aid helps to strengthen those systems and eventually they won’t need our support. We also fund not–for–profit organisations, also called non–government organisations, such as World Vision and Oxfam, to deliver aid programs directly to people in need.
Some projects are very large and complex and need to be managed by Australian or international companies. These companies are selected through a rigorous and competitive tender process.
Some aid is delivered by Australian–funded advisers in developing countries, who share their knowledge and skills with local counterparts.
In disaster emergencies—when communities are devastated by cyclones and earthquakes or are recovering from conflict—AusAID staff travel to affected areas to provide immediate support. AusAID also contributes funding to Australian and international organisations that help people in emergencies, such as the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
Australia provides funding to United Nations organisations, including UNICEF and the World Food Programme, and other international organisations such as the World Bank. Our funding, along with contributions from other countries, helps these organisations to operate and run projects in developing countries.
Australia’s whole-of-government approach to aid delivery has been praised internationally and its strength forged through a decade of cooperative work in Timor-Leste, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami, and more recently in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Just over 10 per cent of the aid program is delivered by federal agencies other than AusAID. A further 4 per cent is delivered through joint partnerships with AusAID. In 2011–12, the aid expenditure of other federal agencies is forecast to be more than half a billion dollars, compared to less than $200 million 10 years ago. By 2015–16, this share is forecast to increase to closer to 12 per cent or up to $900 million per year.
Budget strategy—Proposed indicative geographic distribution of the aid program by 2015–16
View larger map
The estimates shown on the map are indicative and subject to annual budget processes (see page 11 of the Comprehensive Aid Policy Framework).
The figures on the map include total ODA from all Australian agencies and programs, excluding AusAID running costs and unallocated emergency programs. They do not include imputed spending by global partners, such as multilateral organisations.
- Global program ODA: $2.35 billion, including the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, UN agencies and global financing mechanisms such as the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
- East Asia ODA: $1.95 billion, of which Indonesia is $950 million
- Pacific ODA: $1.6 billion, of which Papua New Guinea is $650 million
- South and West Asia: $725 million
- Africa and the Middle East: $625 million
- Latin America and the Caribbean: $50 million
Millennium Development Goals
In September 2000, member states of the United Nations, including Australia, agreed to work towards eliminating global poverty and hunger, to improve health, gender equality, education, and environmental sustainability and to create a global partnership for development. This commitment produced the eight
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Australian aid helps developing countries to achieve these goals.
The Global Economic Crisis has caused a setback to efforts to reduce poverty. See
AusAID's approach to the global recession for more information.
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Brochure: Australian Aid