Australia’s development program
Ministerial Statement: Partnerships for Recovery
Australia is at the forefront of responses to COVID-19 in our region, standing shoulder-to-shoulder in partnership with our neighbours.
Stopping COVID-19 outbreaks for our neighbours using Australian wastewater testing know-how
Surveillance of our wastewater, sewage and stormwater for traces of SARS-CoV-2 is something most Australians are now used to. Since October 2020 Australia has been sharing it with our neighbours in Southeast Asia.
Keeping neighbouring farmers safe to secure our region’s economic recovery
“I had no idea about this new disease that people were talking about. When I read that it was caused by a virus and that it was already among us, I thought we were going to drop dead like chickens everywhere,”
Australia's development program is an investment in an open, prosperous and resilient Indo-Pacific. Our engagement is helping our neighbours navigate the challenges of a more contested and disrupted world. Our efforts contribute to saving lives, restarting economies, and managing the effects of resurgent poverty and inequality. We are also engaged in global humanitarian and development efforts, and advocate through our multilateral and global partnerships to ensure they are effective.
Context: A world and region reshaped by COVID-19
In 2020, 124 million people were pushed back into extreme poverty – an unprecedented setback that erased decades of progress. The impacts of COVID-19 in the Indo-Pacific region have been severe and are still gathering pace, with the needs of our neighbours profoundly changed. The impacts are likely to be long lasting and will leave many countries in our region less resilient in the event of future external shocks.
Partnerships for Recovery: Australia's COVID-19 Development Response
Australia is responding directly to our neighbours' needs and working in partnership with them to build a sustainable recovery.
Through Partnerships for Recovery – Australia's overarching framework for delivering timely, responsive and effective support in a world defined by COVID-19 – we have reshaped Australia's development program. Our efforts are concentrated on health security, stability and economic recovery in our nearest neighbourhood – the Pacific and Southeast Asia. Our focus is on supporting the most vulnerable, including women and girls and people with disability, to enhance their safety and well-being. And we draw on our full suite of national assets including diplomatic, economic and security capabilities to address the scale of the challenge.
Our work in each country is guided by COVID-19 Development Response plans. These outline Australia's response at the country, regional and global level, taking into account the unique context in each setting and reflecting our joint interests with partners.
Australia's Official Development Assistance (ODA) investments
We have implemented these measures through Australia's ongoing $4 billion Official Development Assistance (ODA) program. In recognition of the unprecedented impacts of COVID-19, Australia committed an additional $1 billion over four years in targeted, temporary and supplementary measures for the Pacific, Timor-Leste and Southeast Asia to get funding to our partners when and where it was most needed.
In 2020-21 this included an estimated:
- $200 million for the Pacific and Timor-Leste Economic Recovery package [$300 million over two years from 2020–21],
- $239.1 million for the Regional Vaccine Access and Health Security Initiative [$523.2 million over three years from 2020–23, as well as a further $100 million towards the Quad Vaccine Partnerships],
- $20.2 million for economic, development and security measures to support Southeast Asia's recovery from COVID-19 [$500 million package over 2020–24], and
- $20.4 million [$37.1 m over 2020–22] for COVID-19 support to India.
Australia provides detailed information on the objectives, results and impacts of our ODA investments. For more information read DFAT’s Transparency Statement
Delivering results for a sustainable recovery
Through our partnerships we have stepped up our efforts so that people in our region can access timely, safe and effective vaccines – the highest priority for countries in the Indo-Pacific. Australia was one of the first countries in the world to share doses from our domestic supply. We also continue to work with our partners to advance health coverage and maintain essential health services and routine immunisation – critical to an effective COVID-19 response and to avoid a resurgence of preventable diseases.
Australia works closely with our neighbours to manage the economic fallout from the pandemic and invest in a sustainable economic recovery. This includes integrating climate change into our response.
Our support helps to keep social services going and supports countries to provide financial assistance directly to the most vulnerable, including women and girls, who are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Australia is committed to ensuring the pandemic does not roll back the previous gains made on gender equality and women's economic empowerment, leadership, safety and resilience.
Building on the Pacific Step-up we promote economic opportunity by creating pathways to employment in Australia and across our region through our labour mobility, education and skills initiatives. We also support high quality infrastructure and sustainable growth through the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific and our $1.5 billion loan to Indonesia for budget support.
Alongside Australian Defence Force capabilities, our development program works to maintain the Pacific humanitarian and essential services corridor, recognising we are an important transport hub for our region. The Corridor allows for the movement of humanitarian and medical supplies from and through Australia to the Pacific and Timor-Leste, supporting people to return home, helping get international experts into the region, and delivering new GeneXpert testing equipment so neighbouring countries can detect and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Australia's development program framework will continue to provide flexibility to respond to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 landscape. We stand with our neighbours as we work in partnership to minimise the human, economic and social costs of this pandemic, and chart a course to economic recovery.
The Australian Government is committed to delivering a targeted and high-quality development program that supports preparedness, response and recovery from COVID-19 in the Indo-Pacific.
The performance system that underpins Partnerships for Recovery helps us track changes in the region and report on the annual results and effectiveness of Australia's COVID-19 development response efforts. COVID-19 Development Response plans set out expected outcomes, key results and supporting investments at regional and country level and we have clear performance measures for global programs and multilateral organisations.
We report overall progress with the implementation of Partnerships for Recovery on our website (via Tier 2 results) and through the DFAT Annual Report. We also report annual progress against country and regional COVID-19 Development Response Plans.
The performance of those multilateral organisations we work with are periodically reviewed. Each year DFAT publishes an Annual Development Evaluation Plan and publishes investment-level evaluations of progress and outcomes.
Health Security: Providing equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines
Australia's commitment to our region's resilience against the global COVID-19 pandemic remains steadfast.
Australia has committed more than $750 million to support vaccine access initiatives.
Through our regional Vaccine Access and Health Security Initiative and the Quad Vaccine Partnership Australia has proudly committed to sharing 60 million vaccines with our neighbours in the Indo-Pacific by the end of 2022. By October 2021 we had shared over three million vaccines directly with our region.
Complementing our regional assistance, Australia's $130 million contribution to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment is supporting equitable global access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines, with more than 227 million doses delivered to developing countries around the world by October 2021.
Australia's vaccine support for the region is end-to-end, strengthening local health systems to deliver vaccines safely and to those who need them most, and addressing vaccine hesitancy through technical advice and communications campaigns.
Australia will continue to provide practical and timely support for our neighbours in the Indo-Pacific region to save lives, advance economic recovery, and build health systems to protect against future pandemics.