More and better aid

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The big picture

Every year Australian Aid improves the lives of millions of people around the globe.

The problem

In the last two years, we have witnessed the biggest ever cuts to our aid program. Right now, the Australian Government is investing the least we ever have in Australian Aid.

Why does Australia give aid?

Australia’s overseas aid is an investment in a better future for our world, our neighbours and our country. Aid has made a significant difference in communities around the developing world in recent years.

In addition to the impact that aid can have on people’s lives, the Australian Aid program also promotes Australia’s interests by contributing to sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction – and that’s an important point to remember. Less poverty in the world is good for everybody, not only because of a moral obligation to end inequality.

In a globally interconnected world, aid benefits more than just the communities that receive a hand up from the Australian Ad program. For example, when local communities flourish, they contribute to stronger economies. This provides more and better trading opportunities for Australian businesses with its neighbours. Social and economic stability reduces the risk of political instability, just as access to education for all likely reduces the emergence of radicalisation and better equips communities to respond to it if it occurs – all of which benefits Australia in the long term.

How much do we actually give?

On average, Australians think we invest 16% of the Federal Budget on overseas aid, and believe that we should be spending something closer to 12%. In reality, Australia spends $4.0 billion dollars on overseas aid – that’s just 0.22% of our gross national income, or 22 cents in every $100.

In comparison, the United Kingdom has enshrined a commitment to spend 0.7% of GNI in aid every year into law. We are lagging behind other wealthy countries such as Sweden, who contribute 1.1 per cent of GNI, the Netherlands at 0.65 per cent, and Germany at 0.41 per cent.

What does Australian Aid look like, and does it really make a difference?

Every year Australian Aid improves the lives of millions of people around the world.


per cent increase

in the number of trained midwives in Fiji


people provided access

to safe water and sanitation in Sri Lanka

2.5 million

more children

able to enrol in school in Afghanistan

*Numbers sourced from DFAT's Performance of Australian Aid report 2014-15  

Those are just a few examples – and all that achieved by a program on which we invest less than one per cent of the Federal Budget. When it comes to Australia’s aid program, a little investment goes a very long way. While there still remains much to be done, the world has made significant strides in combating global poverty.

Australia’s aid program is largely focused in the Pacific and Asia region, but the government also funds work in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. The top priorities are improving things like education and health, gender equality, agriculture, and economic development – so developing countries can trade and compete in the international market. In fact, there are a number of countries including India, China and Thailand that have been able to graduate from receiving development aid!

Aid is given in many ways, depending on the issue and the best way in which it can be addressed. It may be delivered:

  • through NGO partners, such as World Vision to deliver targeted programs to meet the needs of the communities involved;
  • directly to another government (bilateral aid) to deliver a programme that reflects both the country’s development needs and the donor country’s capacity to provide technical or financial assistance;
  • through international agencies such as the World Bank, World Health Organisation or World Food Programme. This allows donor countries to contribute to much larger scale programmes;
  • through humanitarian emergency relief such as food parcels, temporary accommodation or health care, when a disaster or conflict situation occurs;
  • through technical supporter and community involvement, when the donor government provides funds for expert volunteers to work in developing countries, to build the skills and capacities of partner governments and organisations; or to develop education programs for the Australian public.

The funding World Vision Australia and other NGO's receive through Australia’s aid program gives us the opportunity to conduct large-scale projects, and allows the government to utilise our expertise, infrastructure and access to communities to deliver aid more effectively.

Some of World Vision’s Australian Aid funded projects include:

Why should the government give aid when people can just donate to charity?

Australians are generous people, and that is well reflected by our culture of charitable giving. But the kinds of projects funded by Australian Aid are much larger in scale and in cost than what NGO’s like World Vision can practically expect to support through private giving alone. Australian Aid helps to magnify the impact of our own private giving, and can be targeted to approaches that will most benefit Australia’s interests in the long term. Australia’s budget is a reflection of our national priorities – and as people who believe in a fair go, more and better aid should be a priority.

What impact have recent cuts to Australian Aid had?

In the year 2000, Australia’s political leaders agreed to a goal: increasing our foreign aid contribution to 0.5% of GNI by the year 2015. As part of the Millennium Goals, Australia joined a global movement to halve extreme poverty, and this ushered in almost a decade of increases to Australia’s aid budget. At its highest point in 2012-13, Australian aid reached 0.34% of GNI – but since then, we’ve seen a dramatic scale back. Aid is now falling even more quickly than it rose during the scale up – and it means that Australia is now on track to be less generous than we have ever been.

This is about more than just numbers on a screen. Each time the Government chooses to spend less than they promised on Australian Aid, real projects impacting real human lives are affected. Aid cuts are cuts to things like immunisation, schooling, healthcare, and clean water programs that are helping people in poor countries build a better future.

Shouldn't Australia keep the money and spend it here instead?

We don’t need to choose between helping here and helping overseas – as one of wealthiest countries in the world, we can do both. As Australian Aid makes up such a small percentage of the overall budget, cuts do very little to improve the bottom line. Plus aid is not just an investment in another country and community – it is an investment that benefits us all.

What can I do about it?

Help us to Stop the Clock on further cuts to Australia’s aid budget – join our campaign to tell the Treasurer you support Australia doing our fair share to end poverty.

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