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Australian Aid


This brochure provides a broad summary of Australia's Aid program, including who we are, what we do, where we work and our primary strategic goals.


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This brochure provides a broad summary of Australia's Aid program, including who we are, what we do, where we work and our primary strategic goals.

Australia's aid program

We all share a vision of a safe, stable and prosperous world and Australia is working with partners around the world to achieve this. There are 1.4 billion people in our world who are living in extreme poverty–less than US$1.25 per day. There are 900 million people without clean water, 150 million children without the chance to go to school, one billion people who are illiterate, and 2.6 billion people who live without safe sanitation facilities.

While such poverty exists, Australia will help.

What does the aid program do?

The purpose of the Australian aid program is to help people overcome poverty. We focus our effort in areas where we can make the biggest difference.

Australia's expertise in health, education, gender equality, law and order, infrastructure, rural development and the environment draws on world best practice, as does our work helping combat global threats such as people trafficking, illicit drugs, HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases.

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Australia responds to emergencies such as cyclones, floods, tsunamis and earthquakes, often being among the first countries to react.

Where do we work?

Through AusAID, the Australian Government provides development assistance to 75 countries. We work mainly with our nearest neighbours–Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, East Timor and the Pacific Islands. We are also providing growing assistance to countries in South Asia and increasing the scope of our engagement in Africa, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Middle East.

Australian aid–five strategic goals

Consistent with the Millennium Development Goals, Australia's aid program is guided by five core strategic goals saving lives, opportunities for all, sustainable economic development, effective governance, and humanitarian and disaster response.

Saving lives

Good health does not come about by chance. It depends on quality food, safe water and sanitation, prevention of disease and access to trained health workers.

We have:

  • helped Vanuatu reduce malaria by 80 per cent and halved the incidence in Solomon Islands
  • helped vaccinate 900,000 children in Papua New Guinea since 2009
  • helped expand access to essential basic health services in Afghanistan from less than 10 per cent of the population in 2001 to around 85 per cent today
  • contributed to better water and sanitation for three million people in Southern and Central Africa
  • supported maternal and child health services in Bangladesh for more than 27 million people, leading to a 40 per cent reduction in maternal deaths over the past decade.

Looking forward, Australia will spend at least $1.6 billion improving the health of women and children over the next five years under the UN Secretary-General's Global Strategy for Women's and Children's Health. We will also provide 1.2 million people in Southern Africa with safe water and sanitation by 2015 and will train more than 2,200 midwives and other health workers in East Africa by 2015.

Opportunities for all

Education is fundamental to everything we do. It is the key to beating poverty and the greatest investment we can make for the world's future. Giving girls an education begins a chain reaction of further benefits. Educated women have better maternal health, fewer children, healthier children, increased economic opportunities and marry later in life. They are also more likely to send their own children to school.

We have:

  • contributed, along with other donors, to help seven million children into schools in Afghanistan
  • helped 330,000 poor children in Indonesia attend school by building more than 2,000 schools and will help 330,000 more
  • helped 462,000 of the very poorest Bangladeshi families with skills training, income support and basic health care
  • helped abolish school fees in Papua New Guinea for the first three grades of primary school, leading to an extra 300,000 enrollments compared to 2006. Similar programs are underway in Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Samoa to help an additional 200,000 children.

Australia will deploy more than 1000 new volunteers overseas each year by 2013 to 33 countries and will offer 2,400 scholarships in the next 12 months. We will also screen 100,000 people in East Asia for avoidable blindness by 2015.

Sustainable economic development

Shared and sustained economic growth remains the most powerful long-term solution to reducing poverty. Australian aid focuses on key drivers of growth, such as rural development, infrastructure and access to finance.

We have:

  • helped 30,000 low income earners in Papua New Guinea open bank accounts
  • trained more than 20,000 people from developing countries at Australian institutions in areas from public administration through to medicine
  • provided financial training, networking and mentoring for some 100,000 women entrepreneurs and their families in Peru
  • provided more than 825,000 Zimbabweans with seeds, fertiliser and agriculture training.

Australia will have spent around $600 million helping developing countries deal with climate change between 2010 and 2012. Around half of Australia's funding is for mitigation, helping developing countries reduce their emissions and lay the foundation for the action needed to limit global temperature change. We will also increase crop productivity on 500,000 small African farms within 10 years.

Effective governance

Effective governance means having strong systems in place and skilled people to provide accountable and transparent public services ranging from record keeping through to justice systems.

We have:

  • helped Solomon Islands improve its budget processes, meet its debt obligations and increase revenue collection from $96 million in 2007 to more than $137 million in 2010
  • trained 2,860 public servants in Papua New Guinea in core public administration competencies such as record keeping, time management and staff supervision
  • supported the three national elections (1999, 2004 and 2009) and numerous local elections during Indonesia's democratic transition.

We will continue to deepen our understanding of governance beyond just government and formal institutions to the importance of leadership, political dynamics, and informal institutions. Our work will focus on leadership, politics, state and society inter-relationships, law, justice and anti-corruption efforts and improving the capacity and effectiveness of the public sector.

Humanitarian and disaster response

Australia makes a vital contribution to international efforts to help people affected by disasters and conflicts. In 2010–11 Australia responded to floods, cholera outbreaks, cyclones, droughts, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions in Africa, Asia, the Pacific, Latin America and the Middle East.

In July 2010 and again this year, we helped Pakistan deal with widespread flooding. The Australian Government quickly committed $75 million for food, shelter, clean water and sanitation. We also sent a 180 strong civilian and military medical response team that treated more than 11,000 patients in central Punjab.

We also know about the terrible consequences of drought and responded quickly and generously to the crisis in the Horn of Africa, with almost $100 million for immediate relief and $30 million for the region's long term food security.

Australia also works to make communities more resilient to extreme weather events through disaster risk reduction activities and better disaster preparedness. We invest in the science and technology that helps communities to improve their ability to predict such events and we invest in buildings that will better withstand their effects.

We have:

  • delivered, in partnership with the World Food Programme, 45,693 tonnes of food to help address food insecurity across Africa in the last year
  • repaired or rebuilt more than 4,300 houses and 23 schools in northern Sri Lanka which were damaged in civil conflict, and provided more than 135,000 disadvantaged rural children with access to quality education
  • responded to more than 30 rapid-onset emergencies and conflicts in the last year, directly helping more than one million people
  • provided food, shelter, water and sanitation, and medical care in response to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in Libya where almost one million people were displaced by conflict.

We are also continuing to work in Egypt and Tunisia to support the transition to democracy by creating jobs, clearing landmines, improving food security, supporting elections and providing scholarships.

How does the aid program work?

AusAID works with the governments of developing countries to help them improve the way they deliver services for their people.

We deliver our aid using different systems, methods and partners, chosen because of their ability to achieve results and deliver value for money. There is no one best way: we tailor our aid program to individual country circumstances and concrete evidence of what works best on the ground.

AusAID also provides funding directly to many Australian non government agencies to deliver aid.

We also are increasing our funding for multilateral agencies such as UNICEF and contribute to global and regional poverty reduction programs set up by the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank.

Delivering aid through multilateral organisations allows us to coordinate efforts better, benefit from these organisations' specialist expertise and extends our reach and impact, particularly in geographic areas where we may have a limited presence on the ground. In 2010–11, AusAID committed approximately $637 million to 11 different United Nations agencies, including multi-year core funding.

We also contract aid delivery work to Australian and international companies and not-for profit organisations. These companies and organisations use their expertise to deliver development assistance and to work with local people to ensure the benefits continue long after a contract ends.

Australian aid: making a real difference

Australia's aid budget is expanding to help developing countries to achieve the Millennium Development Goals. The increase will see Australia ranked as a medium size international donor in terms of percentage of gross national income, and is projected to move Australia up from around 9th of all Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development donors to around 6th by 2015–16.

Australia is:

  • the largest provider of scholarships to the Pacific region
  • the 5th largest donor to the World Food Programme and the first donor to provide multi-year funding
  • the largest donor to small island developing states
  • the largest donor in the Pacific providing half of all overseas development assistance
  • one of the largest donors to conflict affected and fragile states
  • the 3rd largest country donor to the drought and famine in the Horn of Africa
  • the 3rd largest country donor to the humanitarian effort in Libya
  • the 4th largest bilateral donor to the GAVI Alliance in direct contributions
  • the donor which had the largest increase among other bilateral donors to the World Bank's International Development Association and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria
  • the 5th largest donor to UN Women
  • the 6th largest bilateral donor to the 2010 Pakistan floods and 5th largest for the subsequent 2011 floods
  • the 6th largest donor to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
  • the first donor to provide multi-year funding to the UN Central Emergency Response Fund
  • the 6th largest bilateral donor for health in Asia
  • the 8th largest donor to the World Health Organisation.

By 2015, Australia expects to be one of the largest bilateral donors to education.

(Figures based on international reporting and accurate at time of publication.)

Australian aid: delivering real results

Australian aid:

  • supported free fistula surgery for over 2,500 Ethiopian women through the Hamlin Fistula Hospital
  • connected more than 339,000 people in poor urban areas in Indonesia to essential water and sanitation in less than a year
  • assisted with the construction of 828 schools and the training of 45,000 teachers in Afghanistan
  • funded 64 village health fairs in Samoa, boosting childhood vaccinations
  • helped test 134,000 people in Papua New Guinea for HIV since 2006
  • helped East Timor to reduce infant deaths by more than 25 per cent since 2003
  • will contribute to vaccinating more than seven million children through the GAVI Alliance from 2011–13.
Last Updated: 24 September 2014
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