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Australia's International Development Assistance Program 2013–14

Strategic goals

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While Australia's aid is planned and delivered at the country, regional or global level, it is guided by five core strategic goals:

  • saving lives–focusing on health, water and sanitation
  • promoting opportunities for all–focusing on education, gender equality and disability-inclusive development
  • investing in sustainable economic growth, food security and private sector development–focusing on food security, infrastructure and climate change adaptation and mitigation
  • supporting security, improving governance and strengthening civil society–focusing on economic reform, law and justice and strengthening civil society
  • preparing for and responding to humanitarian crises – focusing on emergency response and disaster preparedness.

As outlined in the Comprehensive Aid Policy Framework, expenditure toward the five strategic goals will be determined through an assessment of country and regional priorities based on the following four criteria–poverty, national interest, Australia's capacity to make a difference, and current scale and effectiveness.

Diagram 5: Estimated breakdown of Australian ODA by
strategic goal from 2011–12 to 2013–14*

* The sectoral break-down above aligns with the organising framework set out in An Effective Aid Program for Australia: Making a real difference–Delivering Real Results. Actual and projected expenditures are measured via Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) Sector classifications that have been adapted to this framework. Expenditure reported against thematic issues discussed in this section that cut across multiple Strategic Goals, such as Gender Equality and Climate Change, is measured via OECD DAC Policy Markers and is not represented separately above. For example, the majority of expenditure relating to Gender Equality falls under Saving Lives and Promoting Opportunities for All, and is therefore included under these Goals. The Strategic Goal previously described as 'Cross Cutting' has been renamed 'General Development Support' to better reflect the types of expenditure under that Strategic Goal and avoid confusion with thematic issues that cut across the aid program.

4.1 Saving lives

The Australian Government will save lives–particularly those of poor women and children–by greater access to quality maternal and child health services, supporting large-scale disease prevention, vaccination and treatment programs, and increasing access to safe water and sanitation.

Water and sanitation


A lack of access to safe water and basic sanitation, and poor hand-washing, exposes millions of people to poor health. For example, preventable diarrhoeal diseases such as cholera and E coli claim 1.4 million lives every year, with women and children most at risk.(149)

The importance of safe water and basic sanitation has been acknowledged through the MDG target to halve the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015. In 2011, 783 million people in the world still did not have access to safe drinking water, and 2.5 billion people did not have access to basic sanitation facilities.(150)

Australia's response

The Australian Government has committed to improving public health by increasing access to safe water and basic sanitation. To achieve this objective the Australian Government will invest around $279 million in 2013–14 the Asia–Pacific and Africa, or 5 per cent of total ODA. This funding will support investments in:

  • school water supply, sanitation and hand washing facilities, which will contribute to improved student health and school attendance
  • an increased role for the private sector in service delivery, including maintenance and solid waste removal
  • improved public service delivery, including through extending household access to water and sewerage services and improved capacity to operate and maintain those services.

We will fund a range of partners to deliver assistance in this area, including national governments, civil society organisations, development banks, academia, and the private sector. Our program reach will include neighbouring countries such as Indonesia, Timor Leste and Papua New Guinea, where there are large gaps in access to clean water and basic sanitation services. Countries with similarly poor services, such as Bangladesh, Vietnam and Zimbabwe, will also benefit from continued Australian support.

Maternal and child health


Women and children continue to bear the greatest burden of ill health in developing countries. Every year, nearly seven million children die before they reach their fifth birthday, most of them from preventable illnesses such as pneumonia and diarrhoea.(151) And every year, over a quarter of a million women die from complications during pregnancy or childbirth.(152) Poor nutrition in pregnant women and babies in developing countries can lead to lower levels of education and decreased productivity.

In the Asia–Pacific, progress against MDG 4 (child health) and MDG 5 (maternal health) is lagging. The region continues to bear around 40 per cent of the global burden of maternal and child mortality.

Australia's response

In 2010, Australia committed to spending $1.6 billion on maternal and child health by 2015. As part of this commitment, in 2012 Australia signed the Child Survival Call to Action, which challenges the world to reduce child mortality to below 20 child deaths per 1,000 live births in every country by 2035, and agreed to double expenditure on family planning by 2016.

On current projections, it is expected that around $763 million will be spent on health programs in 2013–14 (excluding water, sanitation and hygiene promotion) or 14 per cent of total ODA. Australia's ODA investment in health will contribute to improvements in maternal and child health and will focus on:

  • expanding access to family planning
  • increasing access to health services for women
  • increasing the number of skilled health workers (including midwives)
  • treating and preventing common childhood illnesses.

The majority of Australian funding will train more health workers and build health service infrastructure, like clinics, so poor and vulnerable women have improved access to health care. Australia will also support family planning, nutrition, immunisation, and health education programs through country, global and regional partners, as well as civil society organisations. Australian support will focus on countries in the Asia–Pacific, including Timor-Leste, Cambodia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. Other countries with poor maternal and child health indicators, such as Afghanistan and Pakistan, as well as those in East Africa will also benefit from Australian support.

Combating disease


Infectious diseases continue to cause suffering and hamper development efforts in our region. Although progress has been made against MDG6 (to halt and reverse the spread of HIV and other diseases), in 2011, 2.5 million people became infected with HIV and 1.7 million people died of the disease.(153) Malaria is found in 22 countries in the Asia Pacific, placing 64 per cent of the region's 3.6 billion people at risk.(154) It remains a major cause of death and illness in the region with around 30 million malaria cases and 42,000 deaths a year.(155) Drug-resistant malaria and tuberculosis pose an additional threat. Countries in the Asia-Pacific face the double burden of addressing both infectious diseases, such as malaria and tuberculosis, and non-communicable diseases such as diabetes and cancer. On top of the loss of lives, these diseases affect individuals in their prime income earning years and therefore hamper economic growth.

Australia's response

Australia is improving the delivery of health services in developing countries and building regional political support to tackle diseases. In October 2012, Australia hosted Malaria 2012, a global conference that resulted in a high-level political commitment to fight the spread of malaria, including by containing drug resistance. Australia has also committed to helping Pacific island countries and territories address the growing burden of non-communicable diseases.

In 2013–14, Australian Government support will be targeted at diseases such as malaria, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS in the Asia–Pacific. The majority of funding will be spent in support of national health plans in our region. The remainder will support regional and global partnerships and organisations dedicated to eliminating deaths from major diseases such as the GAVI Alliance, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. Australia will invest $100 million over four years (to 2015–16) to prevent malaria deaths in the region. To halt the spread of HIV, Australia will continue to build the capacity of organisations to respond to challenges in the Asia–Pacific and support prevention and treatment programs through key global partners such as UNAIDS. Australia will also continue to address emerging public health threats, including by investing in health and medical research.

4.2 Promoting opportunities for all

Consistent with the Comprehensive Aid Policy Framework, the Australian Government will invest more in promoting opportunities for all in developing countries. Our investment will focus on:

  • increasing access to education
  • empowering women to participate in the economy, leadership and education
  • enhancing the lives of people with disability, promoting their dignity and wellbeing.

Education for all


Education is the foundation for economic and social development. However, too many people are deprived of the opportunities that a quality education provides. The MDG for universal primary education is unlikely to be met by 2015. An estimated 61 million children of primary school age were out of school in 2010. Of these, around 20 million live in the Asia–Pacific.(156) Global progress in reducing the number of children out of school has slowed since 2005. Girls, the poor, children with disability, ethnic minorities, and children in rural and remote communities are least likely to obtain the benefits of education.

For those children who do have access to school, the quality of education is not guaranteed. In many poor countries, children's learning is limited by large class sizes, poorly trained teachers, and a lack of books and school supplies. Globally, around 250 million children in primary school are not attaining minimum learning standards.(157) Many children are failing, repeating, or dropping out of school, without achieving basic literacy or numeracy. Quality is also a concern for technical, vocational, and higher education sectors, which are fundamental for driving development and economic growth.

Australia's response

Australia's support for education through the aid program enables more children, particularly girls, to attend school for longer and gain a better education so they have the skills to build their own futures and, in time, escape poverty. The aid program gives particular attention to enabling girls and children and youth with disability to benefit from educational opportunities. Australian support improves access to basic education, and supports our partner governments to improve learning outcomes.

Australia expects to be among the largest bilateral donors in the education sector by 2015. It is estimated that Australia will invest $1,158 million in 2013–14 in education or 22 per cent of total ODA. The focus of this investment will continue to be in the Asia–Pacific, with major programs in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Pacific island countries, Laos and Bangladesh. Australia is the fourth largest donor to the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), which helps 54 low-income countries (34 in sub-Saharan Africa and 12 in the Asia–Pacific) improve access to quality education for children. Australia has pledged $270 million over four years (2011–2015) to GPE.

The aid program is also addressing critical human resource needs in developing countries and building people-to-people links through Australia Awards Scholarships. Australia continues to provide targeted regional and Australia-based scholarships under the Australia Awards to build leadership, knowledge and technical skills in priority areas to support development.

Australia expects to spend $400 million on Australia Awards Scholarships and Australia Awards Fellowships in 2013–14. Australia Awards will increase from around 2,300 awards undertaken in 2010 to 4,500 awards offered annually by 2014. There will be 6,000 awardees studying in Australia by 2014 on Australia Awards Scholarships and Fellowships. Annually, the aid program provides almost four times as many Australia Awards as were provided through the Colombo Plan scholarships program, and Australia Awards cover a broader range of countries.

Empowering women


Gender equality is a human right. Tackling inequalities between women and men supports economic growth and helps reduce poverty. Investments in women's and girls' education and health yield some of the highest returns of all development investments, including through reduced rates of maternal mortality, better educated and healthier children and increased household incomes.

Gender equality is central to achieving all of the MDGs. MDG 3 recognises that achieving equality between men and women is crucial to reducing poverty. While some progress has been made toward achieving the MDG target of eliminating gender disparity in education, inequalities are still striking in a number of regions and countries. Progress toward equal parliamentary representation is slow, with women accounting for only 20 per cent of parliamentarians worldwide(158), and much lower representation in some regions, including the Pacific. Globally, at least one in three women is beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused in her lifetime.(159)

Australia's response

The Australian Government is a firm and persistent advocate for gender equality and has identified gender equality as a critical cross-cutting theme within the aid program.

Over half of AusAID's administered ODA expenditure in 2011–12, or $2.2 billion, was spent on activities with objectives that support gender equality or women's empowerment ('gender-related expenditure').(160) AusAID's gender related expenditure continues to increase in line with increases in ODA.

The Australian Government recognises that both women and men have a role to play in all aspects of development, and that the needs, priorities and interests of women and men must be considered in all development activities and at every stage of the development process.

In 2013–14, Australia's aid program will continue to invest in women's leadership, women's economic empowerment, and ending violence against women.

Australia will strengthen its partnership with UN Women, including by supporting the organisation's programs in our region and its global advocacy role. Through the aid program, Australia will provide UN Women with $48.5 million in core funding over four years from 2012–13 to promote gender equality and empower women around the world.

New Australian gender initiatives in the Pacific, Afghanistan, Indonesia and Cambodia will deliver important results for women in the medium-term.

Box 4: Empowering women in Indonesia and the Pacific

Australia is working with the Government of Indonesia to empower Indonesian women and reduce poverty. Australia is investing $60 million over four years to support the first phase of an eight-year program. The program will improve the welfare of poor rural and urban women in Indonesia by increasing access to jobs and social protection, improving conditions for overseas labour migration and strengthening leadership in the areas of maternal health and ending violence against women.

The aid program will expand on its work to advance gender equality and women's empowerment in the Pacific through the roll-out of the Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development program. Investing $320 million over 10 years, the program aims to increase the number of Pacific women in leadership and decision-making roles at national and local levels, expand economic opportunities for women through improved access to financial services and markets and improve safety for women through better services, violence prevention and access to justice.

Disability-inclusive development


More than one billion people, or 15 per cent of the world's population, have a disability, comprising the world's largest and most disadvantaged minority.(161) Disability is an important development issue because of its strong link to poverty, and because people with disability in developing countries are more likely to have poorer health, lower education levels and fewer opportunities for economic participation than the general population.(162)

Australia is committed to ensuring people with disability are included in our aid program, because we recognise that the MDGs will only be achieved if development benefits all people, including people with disability. The aid program's focus on disability is aligned with the Australian Government's national social inclusion agenda, and reflects Australia's commitment to promote the dignity and wellbeing of people with disability in the poorest countries.

Australia's response

Australia's disability strategy for the aid program, Development for All, emphasises that people with disability hold the same rights as others. It sets out practical approaches to ensure people with disability are included in, and contribute to, decision-making processes, and that the benefits of development extend to all. AusAID supports disability-inclusive development through targeted programs and by mainstreaming disability across the aid program. A 2012 mid-term review of the implementation of Development for All noted that Australia is now recognised as the leading donor internationally on disability-inclusive development, and work undertaken so far has been considerable and impressive.(163)

The Australian Government recently announced further support to partner countries including $4 million over four years to assist the Government of Samoa in ratifying and implementing the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Australia has also agreed a strategic partnership with the Pacific Disability Forum, the umbrella organisation for disabled peoples' organisations in the Pacific, including $4.5 million in funding support over four years. The Pacific Disability Forum helps people with disability take part in shaping national policies and programs that contribute to improved quality of life.

To increase the knowledge base, Australia has committed $6 million over three years for research on disability-inclusive development through the Australian Development Research Awards scheme.

4.3 Sustainable economic development

The Australian Government will promote sustainable economic development in developing countries by:

  • improving food security
  • improving incomes, employment and enterprise opportunities
  • promoting private sector-led growth
  • reducing the negative impacts of climate change and other environmental factors.

Food security, rural development and social protection


The United Nations estimates that nearly 900 million people go hungry every day. Two thirds of these are living in the Asia-Pacific. The MDG to halve the proportion of people suffering from hunger, from 20 per cent in 1990 to 10 per cent by 2015, remains off-track.(164) Sixty per cent of those going hungry are women, even though 60 to 80 per cent of food in developing countries is produced by women.(165) Natural disasters including droughts and floods reduce agricultural production. This in turn lowers food stocks and puts pressure on food prices. When prices rise, poor people are forced to spend more of their income on food, often at the expense of education and medicines.

Many poor communities lack mechanisms such as welfare to reduce their vulnerability to price rises or natural disasters. Australia invests in social protection because it helps protect the poor and vulnerable from hunger and destitution and also contributes to human development, long term economic growth and reduced inequality and malnutrition.

Australia's response

The Australian aid program has developed a comprehensive approach to food security by targeting the immediate needs of the poorest, while also strengthening the foundations of long-term global food security and encouraging trade liberalisation. Australia provides immediate humanitarian food assistance delivered through agencies such as the World Food Programme (WFP).

In all major global fora, including the G20, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), East Asia Summit, and World Trade Organization (WTO), Australia advocates this comprehensive approach. Australia works in three areas of food security: improving agricultural productivity through research, increasing rural livelihoods through markets, and building community resilience through social protection programs. On current projections, Australia will spend an estimated $411 million, or 8 per cent of its total ODA, on food security in 2013–14.

Transport, energy and communications


About a quarter of households in the Asia Pacific still do not have access to electricity and much of the rural population lives far from all-weather roads. The Asian Development Bank estimates that the Asia Pacific will need an investment of $700 billion each year until 2020 to meet its infrastructure needs.(166) Infrastructure development contributes to poverty reduction by spurring economic growth, stimulating enterprise opportunities and generating employment, and providing poor people with access to basic services.

Australia's response

Australia focuses its direct support on transport infrastructure including rural access roads, national roads and rail infrastructure that improve access to services and facilitate trade. AusAID's major transport infrastructure programs are in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Vietnam and the Philippines. Australia provides further support to partner countries through a combination of global partnerships and bilateral programs that focus on creating reliable and sustainable energy services. Australia also supports the improvement of information and communication technology, allowing poor people to become more connected. Expenditure on infrastructure activities in 2013–14 is expected to total $390 million, or 7 per cent of total ODA.

Mining for development


Investment in mining has grown rapidly in developing countries in response to high commodity prices. This growth has been fuelled by China and India's rapid industrialisation. The sector has considerable potential to help reduce poverty but comes with many challenges. Many resource-rich countries perform worse on human development indicators than less well endowed countries.(167) Mining generates economic opportunities, directly through the creation of jobs, increased tax revenues, rents to landowners and royalty payments, and also by contributing to economic growth through expanding the private sector and through increasing governments' resources.

Australia's response

AusAID's Mining for Development Initiative ($127 million over four years) was launched by the Prime Minister in October 2011. It works through multilateral organisations like the World Bank, government agencies, NGOs, universities and the private sector to assist partner governments to maximise the economic benefits of their extractives sector in a socially and environmentally sustainable way. The initiative increases the capacity of partner governments and their communities to manage their extractives sector, improving the transparency and accountability of revenue management and increasing the benefits to communities. For example, by 2015, Australia will directly support the training of almost 2,400 people in developing country governments and civil society organisations to improve how the industry is regulated, improve environmental sustainability and improve the benefits for communities. Australia also provides support to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative to improve the transparency of resource revenues to governments and increase knowledge of management of public finances. Australia also provides, through the World Bank, advice to developing countries to help them protect their interests when entering into mining agreements. The Australia Awards Scholarships program also helps to build the capacity of recipients, through tertiary study in Australia, to negotiate more effectively with mining companies. Australia has provided scholarships in mining governance, environmental protection, geospatial information systems, and health and safety.

Climate change and environment


Reducing the negative impacts of climate change and other environmental factors is a key pillar in promoting sustainable economic development. Without intervention, the impacts of environmental degradation and climate change will erode and reverse decades of development gains and jeopardise the livelihoods of billions of poor people. People in developing countries who depend on the natural environment for their income, food and water are particularly vulnerable to these impacts and often lack the capacity to respond effectively to climate related disasters such as floods and droughts.

Australia's response

Climate change and environment are cross cutting thematic issues. Australia is addressing environment and climate challenges affecting the poor through a range of
bilateral, regional and multilateral initiatives. It is anticipated that environment related expenditure will remain around $600 million in 2013-14. Expenditure will include:

  • under the Climate Change and Coastal Ecosystems Program, providing $23 million to Vietnam over five years (2011–2016) to manage and protect coastal ecosystems and respond to the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation. The program was extended from the successful three-year pilot project in Kien Giang province that installed more than 4.5 kilometres of protective fences to improve the survival and growth rates of over 40 hectares of mangroves in vulnerable coastal areas. New sustainable livelihood activities, such as growing salt tolerant crops, were introduced, increasing household income by between 50 and 150 per cent for 98 households. Resources on climate change, biodiversity and waste management have been incorporated into primary school curricula and are being used by 8,000 teachers in over 280 schools
  • using our influence as co-chair of the Board of the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to shape its design so it is focused on delivering real benefits for poor people in developing countries, especially least developed countries and small island developing states such as Pacific island countries. A key part of this will be ensuring the GCF has well-designed governance and financial systems and is able to attract significant private sector investment and resources.

Private sector development, trade and financial inclusion


Trade and the private sector play an important role in achieving sustainable economic growth and in reducing poverty. This is achieved through increased business activity, competition, investment, innovation, and subsequent productivity growth. Improvements in trade and business performance will require reforms in regulations and addressing supply-side constraints, such as weak capacity and skills. Globally, 2.7 billion people remain 'unbanked'–without access to financial services of any kind.(168) Poor women and men need a wide range of financial services, including payments, savings, borrowings and insurance. With these services the poor are better able to grow their businesses, build assets and reduce their vulnerability to external shocks.

Australia's response

In February, the Minister for Foreign Affairs announced Australia's support for a second phase of the Trade Development Facility in Laos. Australia will provide $5 million through a World Bank-managed multi-donor trust fund over 2013–17. The facility builds on the achievements of a successful first phase that was instrumental in supporting Laos' accession to the World Trade Organization in 2013. The facility will help Laos improve its competitiveness and diversify its economy through trade reform, including halving the time to clear exports and imports through customs and halving the number of days to obtain an import licence. Support will also go toward improving the conditions and productivity of industries that are significant employers of women, such as the garments sector.

Under the $46.8 million Australia Africa Food Security Initiative announced in 2011, AusAID committed to providing $10 million over four years (2011–12 to 2014–15) to support the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund Research in Business Window. The fund aims to stimulate the private sector to commercialise existing, readily available and near complete agricultural research and technology products for the benefit of the rural poor in Africa.

The Pacific Microfinance Initiative ($9.5 million over 2009–13) and the Pacific Financial Inclusion Program ($10 million over 2008–13) have directly benefited over 500,000 people, including over 180,000 women gain access to mobile money and open savings accounts in PNG, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu. These programs involved close partnerships with the private sector.

4.4 Effective governance

The Australian Government will work with partner governments to improve governance in developing countries and deliver:

  • better services through improved government efficiency and effectiveness, and more accountable, open and responsive governments
  • improved security and enhanced justice
  • enhanced human rights for poor people.


Governance is about the rules and processes determining how decisions are made and implemented. It is about the way societies use shared resources and how they negotiate amongst themselves to meet competing needs and interests. The achievement of the MDGs is dependent on the effectiveness of institutions of governance, including parliaments, ministries and departments of government, traditional leadership groups, and civil society organisations.

In many countries where Australia provides aid, institutions of governance are weak. This means that basic services such as education and maternal health are not delivered effectively, and poor and marginalised people often miss out. The top seven country recipients of Australian aid are generally ranked below average for all six of the World Bank Worldwide Governance Indicators.(169) This ranking indicates poor public services, a lack of public confidence in the police and courts, low levels of citizen participation, and a high likelihood of instability and insecurity. Countries weak in government effectiveness, rule of law, and control of corruption have a 30 to 45 per cent higher risk of civil war and a much higher risk of extreme criminal violence than other developing countries.(170) This influences how we deliver aid and our priorities in these countries. Without effective governance, development, growth and poverty reduction are compromised.

The World Bank's 2011 Word Development Report highlighted the importance of governance to development and conflict reduction.

Delivering better services

Australia's response

In 2013–14, around $461 million, or 9 per cent of total ODA, is expected to be spent on strengthening partner governments' capacity to deliver services in an effective, efficient and accountable way.

Australia will support partner governments in their efforts to deliver basic services through capable and well-functioning state institutions. In Papua New Guinea, the Economic and Public Sector Program ($100 million from 2009–10 to 2014–15) will strengthen key government agencies to improve service delivery in health, education and transport through improved collection, allocation, spending and auditing of public revenue.

In countries where Australian aid represents a small proportion of the total national budget, such as Indonesia and the Philippines, we will help governments better use their own resources to improve service delivery. We will assist them in strengthening their policy and reform processes, so that it is evidence-based, participatory, and meets the needs of all, including poor people, women and girls, people with disability and other marginalised groups.

Australia will also assist partner governments to work in a more transparent way so that citizens have the information necessary to hold their governments to account. This will contribute to enhanced state legitimacy. In Nauru for example, we will improve transparency of national procurement processes and revenue management, and improve accountability through a stronger media.

Improved security and enhanced justice

Australia's response

In 2013–14, around $200 million, or 4 per cent of total ODA, is expected to be spent on law and justice activities. Australia will continue to provide law and justice development assistance across the Pacific, Cambodia, Indonesia, Timor-Leste and Afghanistan.

Australia will assist partner governments to strengthen the safety and security of communities through effective and locally legitimate policing. After nine years of Australian engagement through the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI), the country is now stable but continues to face development challenges. So although the military contingent of RAMSI is no longer necessary, Australia will continue to assist RAMSI's Participating Police Force to support the Royal Solomon Islands Police Force for the next four years (from 2013 to 2017).

Australia will focus on improving people's confidence in their justice systems by improving their ability to use those systems to resolve disputes and realise their rights. In Indonesia, we will train court officials, prosecution officers and community paralegals in mediation and legal aid procedures in order to achieve fair proceedings, including for women and people with disability.

We will also make sure that people can turn to their justice system for protection. In Timor-Leste we will reduce the impact of domestic violence by providing safe houses and legal assistance for victims of violence against women and their children.

Enhanced human rights

Australia's response

In 2013–14, around $208 million, or 4 per cent of total ODA, is expected to be spent on human rights.

Australia supports efforts to increase civil and political rights–a key component of human rights–because they allow poor and marginalised people to be active in their own development and play a role in more accountable, responsive and effective government.

Supporting free and fair elections is one way to enhance these rights. When elections are held freely and fairly, and managed by capable electoral management bodies, it enhances the legitimacy of the government of the day, strengthens governance and increases stability. Four of the five largest recipients of Australian aid–Indonesia, Solomon Islands, Afghanistan, and the Philippines–will be conducting national or sub-national elections in 2013 and 2014. Australia will continue to work with these and other partner countries to support them throughout the electoral process.

Australia will also support civil society organisations and international institutions to work on democratic and human rights issues through the Human Rights Grants Scheme. This provides grant funding to NGOs and human rights institutions to promote and protect human rights in direct and tangible ways, for example, by helping to develop the capacity of civil society organisations to increase communal engagement in local governance and awareness of basic rights in Myanmar.

4.5. Humanitarian and disaster response

Australia is committed to effective humanitarian action that saves lives, alleviates suffering, protects development gains, and enhances human dignity in the aftermath of conflict, natural disasters and other humanitarian crises.


In 2012, an estimated 260 natural disasters were registered, killing more than 6,700 people and affecting more than 100 million victims worldwide. Economic damages in 2012 totalled an estimated US$44.6 billion(171).

A stable and prosperous Asia–Pacific is in Australia's national interest, but this region suffers disproportionately from disasters. In December 2012, Tropical Cyclones Bopha and Evan severely affected the Philippines, Samoa, and Fiji, and demonstrated Australia's capability to respond to simultaneous emergencies in three countries.

Landmines, cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of violent conflict kill and injure civilians long after conflict has ended. These devices hamper development by making land and other resources unusable for productive uses. They also constrain efforts to improve health, education and poverty, preventing countries from achieving the MDGs.

Australia's response

In 2012, AusAID responded to more than 30 emergencies in Asia, the Pacific, Africa, the Middle East, Caribbean and Latin America, providing more than $227 million in life-saving assistance to an estimated 14 million vulnerable people. In 2012, Australia fulfilled its $100 million pledge to help free the world from landmines, cluster munitions and other explosive remnants of war. Australia will maintain a prominent role on mine action through its position as Chair of the Mine Action Support Group in 2013 and through ongoing funding.

Australia's initiative, Strengthening Preparedness and Response to Humanitarian Crises (2012–13 to 2015–16), will expand our capacity to respond to crises overseas. This will reduce the vulnerability of countries to natural disasters and the destabilising effects of conflict and state fragility. This initiative also allows Australia to assist and protect people affected by humanitarian crises and disasters around the world rapidly and effectively, by strengthening partnerships with key multilateral humanitarian partners, including the World Food Programme, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Committee of the Red Cross. Australia's humanitarian programs align directly with two of the strategic goals of the aid program–saving lives and humanitarian and disaster response. AusAID's 2011 Humanitarian Action Policy provides a strategic framework to guide Australia's humanitarian action and supports the fundamental purpose of Australia's aid program, to help people overcome poverty.

AusAID has undertaken a number of other measures to enable humanitarian assistance to be more timely, coordinated and effective. These measures include:

  • joining the United Nations' Humanitarian Response Depot network and entering into an agreement with a commercial logistics company for a range of humanitarian logistics services. These partnerships have already provided emergency relief assistance to Fiji and Samoa in response to Cyclone Evan in December 2012
  • entering into new multi-year agreements covering 2013-2016 with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). These organisations were rated as highly effective in the Australian Multilateral Assessment.
Table 3: Estimated breakdown of Australian humanitarian program funding
Estimated outcome ($m)
Budget estimate ($m)
Humanitarian and emergency response
United Nations humanitarian agencies
International Committee of the Red Cross
Humanitarian, emergencies and refugees global program subtotal
Country, regional and other programs
Other government department component
Total humanitarian expenditure

Box 5: Responding to simultaneous emergencies

Cyclone Bopha made landfall in the Philippines three times between 4 and 7 December 2012. It is estimated that Bopha affected 6.2 million people, with more than 1,000 casualties and 216,000 houses totally or partially damaged.

At the same time as Australia was assessing and responding to Bopha's effects in the Philippines, Cyclone Evan passed through Samoa and Fiji between 16 and 18 December 2012. Approximately 14,000 people were displaced, with approximately
8,000 houses and 150 schools damaged or destroyed.

Australia responded effectively to these simultaneous disasters, including by sending staff from AusAID's Rapid Response Team in the emergency phase and experts from the Australian Civilian Corps to assist with post-disaster needs assessments. For Cyclone Bopha, we provided:

  • more than 1,000 tonnes of food through the World Food Programme
  • around 8,500 family packs containing sleeping mats, water containers and hygiene kits through the Philippines Red Cross
  • hygiene, dignity and delivery kits through United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
  • support for water and sanitation, child protection and shelter through three Australian NGO signatories to the Humanitarian Partnership Agreement.

For Cyclone Evan, we provided funds for immediate relief items including 448,000 water purification tablets; 6,700 blankets; 3,220 water containers; 1,944 tarpaulins; 1,482 hygiene kits and 500 shelter kits.

Box 6: Mine-free Uganda

On 10 December 2012, Uganda was officially declared free of landmines at a ceremony in Kampala. Australia has been a strong supporter of the National Mine Action Programme in Uganda, providing $4.75 million since 2010. Most of the cleared land is now being farmed, providing better livelihoods and making the environment safer for local residents.


Multilateral humanitarian organisations

Australia helps save lives through effective humanitarian and disaster response, supported by strong partnerships. Australia is engaging with, and providing core funding to, multilateral organisations for humanitarian and disaster response. We will continue to support the work of United Nations humanitarian and peace building agencies to improve the effectiveness and coordination of the United Nations' responses following natural disasters and in fragile and conflict-affected states. Australia will strengthen our responses to humanitarian crises by supporting effective non-government partners who have local capabilities and specialist knowledge.

United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF)

Australia will provide $27 million in 2013–14 to OCHA and CERF.

OCHA is responsible for the coordination of humanitarian response in natural disasters and complex emergencies. It is also engaged in information management, humanitarian policy development, humanitarian financing and advocacy. Its mission is to mobilise and coordinate effective and principled humanitarian action in order to alleviate human suffering in disasters and emergencies.

Funding to OCHA contributes to a coordinated humanitarian response that saves lives by ensuring the rapid and effective allocation of assistance based on need. OCHA also increases the accountability of assistance provided by other UN agencies, and reduces duplication or gaps in crisis response.

CERF provides rapid response funding to sudden onset emergencies enabling UN agencies to move quickly to save lives. It also provides support to under-funded and protracted crises. CERF is managed by the Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC), Valerie Amos, Head of OCHA. OCHA and the international humanitarian system rely on CERF to improve the level of predictability, flexibility and timeliness in international humanitarian crisis response.

In 2012, CERF disbursed $477 million for emergencies in 49 countries around the world.

Our contributions to OCHA will support:

  • effective advocacy and leadership to ensure a timely and coordinated humanitarian response to save lives
  • strengthened engagement with national authorities on disaster management
  • strengthened disaster preparedness and coordination across the Asia Pacific region.

Our contributions to CERF will help:

  • enable a more rapid and comprehensive humanitarian response by UN agencies to sudden onset, protracted or 'neglected' emergencies.

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

Australia will provide $28.5 million in 2013–14 to ICRC.

The ICRC is one of the world's largest and most respected humanitarian agencies, with a mandate in international law to protect and assist civilians affected by armed conflict. The ICRC operates in around 80 countries. Australia is a major contributor of core funding to the ICRC.

Our contributions to the ICRC will help:

  • protect and assist civilians affected by armed conflict and other situations of violence
  • promote and strengthen adherence to international humanitarian law and universal humanitarian principles through training and advocacy with governments, military and police
  • support the ICRC to deliver emergency medical assistance, primary health care, sexual and reproductive services, vaccinations, shelter, blankets, food and agricultural tools for millions affected by conflict and violence in places like Afghanistan, South Sudan, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Somalia and Mali.

World Food Programme (WFP)

Australia will provide $46 million in 2013–14 to WFP.

WFP is the lead United Nations agency for humanitarian food assistance in emergencies. Australia's funding will support emergency and recovery operations as well as school feeding. WFP was among the top ranked organisations in the Australian Multilateral Assessment (AMA).

Funding to WFP contributes to: providing emergency food assistance, logistics and communications; providing nutritional supplements to vulnerable groups during humanitarian crises; supporting the re-establishment of livelihoods and food security in communities during recovery and transition periods; pre positioning humanitarian food reserves to prepare for future emergencies; and capacity building initiatives to assist governments better manage food and nutritional security as well as boost national preparedness and response mechanisms.

Our contributions to WFP will help:

  • WFP to feed more than 90 million people in more than 75 countries during humanitarian emergencies and post-emergency recovery operations
  • provide ongoing support for the re-establishment of livelihoods and food security in communities after emergencies
  • contribute to improved nutrition and increased access to education for children through WFP school feeding programs.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

Australia will provide $23 million in 2013–14 to UNHCR.

UNHCR is the UN-mandated lead agency assisting refugees. Australia's funding will support UNHCR to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees around the world.

Our contributions to UNHCR will help:

  • provide life-saving assistance such as shelter, food, water and hygiene to more than 33 million refugees and other displaced persons fleeing humanitarian crises around the world
  • support UNHCR in its critical protection work, including its sexual and gender based violence protection initiatives, to enhance the safety and security of the most vulnerable.

Box 7: Australian Civilian Corps

The Australian Civilian Corps (ACC) deploys senior civilian specialists to countries experiencing or emerging from conflict, natural disasters and state fragility. ACC deployments support stabilisation, recovery and development planning, acting as a bridge between humanitarian and emergency response measures and longer term development programs.

Since the ACC initiative became operational in 2011, AusAID has deployed 50 specialists delivering over 175 cumulative months to support stabilisation and recovery efforts. There are now more than 385 highly skilled and experienced civilians registered and trained to assist developing countries restore essential services, rebuild government institutions and re-establish economic and social stability. In 2013–14, AusAID will continue to build and refine the skill set of the expert register to achieve the target of 500 trained and prepared specialists.

In addition to the 50 Australian Civilian Corps specialists Australia has deployed: 15 members of AusAID's Rapid Response Team (RRT) to four disaster-affected countries; positioned 85 RedR Australian specialists in 26 developing countries; and assigned 163 Australian Red Cross delegates to more than 40 humanitarian crises.

During 2012–13 AusAID deployed 42 ACC civilian specialists, comprising small teams in Afghanistan, Fiji, Samoa, the Philippines, Sierra Leone and Thailand and a large deployment to Papua New Guinea. These specialists worked in diverse fields including law and justice, stabilisation, electoral support, engineering, peace building and humanitarian advisory roles.

The ACC is building partnerships with international counterparts, including the United Kingdom Stabilisation Unit and the United States' Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations. The ACC also works with multilateral organisations and other key bilateral partners through joint deployments and training exercises. Working with effective partners allows Australia to benefit from specialist expertise and extends Australia's reach and impact, particularly in areas where we have a limited presence on the ground.

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Last Updated: 14 May 2013
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