Skip to main content

Development assistance in the Pacific

Overview of Australia's Pacific Regional development program

2020-21 bilateral allocation [budget estimate]
$274.7 million
2020-21 total Australian ODA [budget estimate]
$384.5 million
2019-20 total Australian ODA [budget estimate]
$336.4 million

* The Pacific Regional Program is a discrete appropriation that complements Pacific Bilateral programs. A portion of this funding is directly attributable to specific Pacific countries and this is included in their Total Australian ODA.

* The Total Australian ODA figure represents funding to the Pacific region that is not attributable to a specific country. It includes funding from the Pacific Regional Program, several other regional and global programs and other Australian government departments.

COVID-19 has underscored the importance of regionalism — addressing common challenges together, harnessing shared strengths and delivering practical benefits to all Pacific people.

The Pacific’s long established regional organisations, the Pacific Islands Forum, the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Council of Regional Organisations of the Pacific (CROP) agencies have responded quickly to COVID-19. Forum members have established the Pacific Humanitarian Pathway for COVID-19 — the only regional initiative of its kind in the world and a powerful demonstration of the Forum’s capacity to respond to this crisis.

Australia's response to COVID-19 in the Pacific builds on our Pacific Step-up, which is one of Australia's highest foreign policy priorities. It has strengthened our co-operation in helping to grow economies, build resilience, and enhance regional stability. The Pacific Regional Program gives effect to many of the Step-Up initiatives and activities. It adds value where it is more efficient and effective to work through regional approaches and complements our Pacific bilateral programs in support of a stable, secure and prosperous Pacific.

Our Pacific Regional Program addresses the health, economic and social challenges presented by COVID-19 through regional and coordinated solutions. Working with regional organisations and a range of other partners, our Pacific Regional Program is aligned to the Partnerships for Recovery: Australia’s COVID-19 Development Response, with details outlined in a Pacific Regional COVID-19 Development Response Plan. The Pacific Regional Program complements our global and bilateral investments in Pacific countries.

Pillar 1 — Health Security:

Australia is working with the World Health Organization (WHO), the Pacific Community (SPC) Public Health Division and other partners to respond to COVID-19.

We are working with Ministers and senior officials to identify and tackle common health challenges. This policy dialogue has included COVID-19 but also important challenges, like non-communicable diseases. Within a COVID-19 context, the regional program works to strengthen regional health governance and policy, and deliver services or training where economies of scale are achieved from a regional or multi-country approach.

Australia is upskilling health workers to respond to COVID-19, and working with the IPPF (International Planned Parenthood Federation) and UNFPA to ensure women are provided with accessible sexual and reproductive health services. We are also continuing our partnership with the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration and its regional counterparts to ensure safe drug supply.

Globally, partnerships are providing WASH support in the region, and our partnership with Water for Women supports WASH services in four Pacific countries. Our partnership with the Pacific Water and Wastewater Association supports 31 Pacific water utilities.

Further information on regional investments addressing health security can be found at:

Pillar 2 - Stability:

Australia is working more closely than ever with the Pacific on issues of greatest concern, including climate change. Consistent with the Forum leaders’ Kainaki II Declaration for Urgent Climate Change Action Now, Australia is investing in building the Pacific’s climate change and disaster resilience. Through the Australia Pacific Climate Partnership, we are integrating resilience into COVID-19 responses, with an emphasis on gender equality and social inclusion.

Australia’s security engagement remains critical to the region’s recovery from COVID-19. We are committed to the Forum leaders’ Boe Declaration on Regional Security that outlines an expanded concept of security to ensure the stability and prosperity of our Blue Pacific. Our support includes important partners like the Australian Border Force, Australian Defence Force, Australia Pacific Security College, and the Pacific Fusion Centre.

Australia will invest in gender equality to expand social and economic opportunities for women and girls. We will continue to collaborate with women leaders and male champions to advance the position of women and girls.

Australia continues to invest in regional education programs through global and regional education mechanism, like the Global Partnership for Education Board and SPC’s Educational Quality Assessment program.

Australia supports the Forum and the Pacific Disability Forum in their work with Pacific governments and disabled people's organisations to implement disability-inclusive policies and responses to COVID-19 as well as create opportunities for people with disabilities.

Australia is working with a range of partners from SPC, Forum Fisheries Agency to the Australian Centre for Agriculture Research to meet food security challenges exacerbated by COVID-19.

Our Pacific Step-up investments that foster deeper people-to-people connections through churches, sporting organisations and education are being adapted during this time of crisis.

Further information on programs addressing stability can be found at:

Pillar 3 — Economic Recovery:

Australia’s Pacific COVID-19 response is delivering critically needed infrastructure development and stimulating jobs, trade and private sector growth for economic recovery.

The Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific (AIFFP) is progressing projects to increase energy affordability and reliability to increase the operating capacity of businesses, households, schools and hospitals. AIFFP projects will focus on creating more local jobs and increasing private sector participation. Through our long-term support for the Forum Fisheries Agency, we will continue efforts to grow the value and employment opportunities from tuna fisheries.

Australia has reopened Pacific labour mobility, working with industry and whole-of government partners to identify additional sectors and new pathways for labour mobility to Australia.

We will continue to foster connectivity by supporting the movement of critical supplies and people, especially through the Forum’s Pacific Humanitarian Pathway for COVID-19. This support in a time of strict border controls and reduced commercial flights is saving lives and jobs in countries that are highly dependent on regional connectivity.

We will support inclusive skills development across the region through the Australian Pacific Training Coalition (APTC), adapting training to reflect the new needs of Pacific employers and those industries hardest hit by COVID-19. The APTC also aims to maximise opportunities created by labour mobility. Australia will work to leverage opportunities to link with our infrastructure investments under AIFFP, and enhance digital and remote learning in the region with our partnership with University of South Pacific.

The Pacific Regional Program will be complemented by a $304.7million COVID-19 Response Package for the Pacific and Timor-Leste. The package will help mitigate fiscal crisis, maintain critical social services, protect the most vulnerable, and support economic recovery.

Australia will continue to work with Pacific island governments, the World Bank, ADB and the United Nations to access finance, policy and technical assistance and improve crisis response and multilateral system reform to build back better.

Further information on programs addressing economic recovery can be found at:

A summary of results achieved by the Pacific Regional Program can be found in the Performance Reports (see Related Documents).

Australia’s development efforts are set out in Partnerships for Recovery: Australia’s COVID-19 Development Response.

Back to top