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Australia’s development program

The Australian Government's development policy, Partnerships for Recovery — Australia's COVID-19 Development Response, outlines Australia's approach to tackling COVID-19 in our region. We are pivoting our development program to focus on health security, stability and economic recovery, together with our partners.

Joint media release: ‘Partnering with our neighbours to respond to COVID-19'

The COVID-19 context in our region

COVID-19 is having a profound impact on our lives and on our region. The pandemic has had varied impacts across the Indo-Pacific. While the Pacific has seen relatively few cases to date, Southeast Asia is experiencing mixed impacts across countries and South and West Asia are dealing with high case numbers. This has the potential to overwhelm health systems, while having long-lasting economic and social consequences.

The economic impact has been profound. COVID-19 has caused the deepest global recession since World War I. In particular, tourism-exposed small island economies have been hit hard. For example, Fiji's economy is projected to contract by 20-22 per cent in 2020.

Hard won development gains are at risk of being reversed with lasting negative impacts on human capital. 533 million people globally could be pushed back into poverty, with women and people with disabilities disproportionately losing work opportunities.

The pandemic is exacerbating impacts from underlying vulnerabilities, including natural disasters, malnutrition, health comorbidities, gender-based violence, and lack of water and sanitation facilities.

Australia's response to COVID-19

Partnerships for Recovery takes a whole-of-government approach to addressing the serious impacts of the virus in our region, centring our efforts on issues of most critical importance: health security, stability, and economic recovery. How our neighbourhood emerges from this crisis will determine Australia's own recovery for decades to come. Our economic and strategic recovery depends on borders reopening, global and regional trade resuming, and travel and tourism returning to our country, and region.

COVID-19 has reinforced that Australia's stability and prosperity is closely tied to that of the Indo-Pacific, so our ongoing efforts will focus on our nearest neighbours: the Pacific, Timor-Leste and Indonesia. These are the places we know best and where we can have most impact.

While we will concentrate on our near neighbourhood, effective global relief and recovery efforts will remain vital to Australia's long-term interests. We will continue to cooperate globally to manage the impacts of the pandemic and chart a course to a shared recovery.

COVID-19 Development Response Plans

COVID-19 Development Response Plans are brief, two-year development plans outlining Australia's COVID-19 response at the country, regional and global level. All plans share a common set of objectives drawn from Partnerships for Recovery.

COVID-19 Development Response Plans:

  • are detailed blueprints for the implementation of Partnerships for Recovery - the next level of granularity at the country, regional and global level
  • take into account the unique COVID-19 context in each setting
  • reflect our joint interests with partners
  • capture Australia’s whole-of-government and non-ODA contributions to development.

Australia's COVID-19 Development Response Plans can be found on the Where we deliver our Development Program page

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