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 six budgets, we have witnessed successive 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 neighbours and our world. Aid has made a significant difference in communities around the developing world in recent years. In a globally interconnected world, the impact of aid goes far beyond the communities that receive a hand up from the Australian aid. When we create social and economic stability,  peace and prosperity benefits everyone.

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 $4.044 billion dollars on overseas aid – that’s just 0.21% of our gross national income, or 21 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. 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 to becoming our trade partners, increasing everyone's prosperity in our region! 

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. Australian Aid amplifies the impact of private giving and can be used for projects that are much larger in scale and in cost. Australia’s budget should be 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 bi-partisan 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 the least generous 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 schooling, healthcare, immunisation, and clean water programs that are helping people in need build a better future.

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

We don’t need to choose between helping people here and helping people 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. 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?

Join World Vision's Safe & Free Campaign - calling on the Australian Government to increase humanitarian aid and intake of refugees:

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Australia's aid program impacts millions of lives every year. help us Stop the Clock on further scheduled aid cuts.

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