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Australia’s aid program is a cornerstone of the Australian spirit of lending a hand to others in need and looking out for one’s neighbours. Australia has distinguished itself in the global community for its steadfast commitment to providing aid and humanitarian assistance to countries all across the world. However, the aid paradigm has shifted from a traditional symptom-based approach to a cause-targeting strategy. This means focusing on the economic development and sustainable growth in recipient countries so as to alleviate the root causes of many of the humanitarian situations these countries face. Australia’s aid commitment is about quality, not just quantity, as we ensure that our ODA budget is used effectively and efficiently. For this reason, the Office of Development Effectiveness monitors and assesses Australian Aid initiatives to better deliver our generous aid program for long-term growth and stability.
Our aid program is also modernising as we adapt to growth and development in our regional neighbours and a different economic outlook in Australia. As many of our regional aid recipients have developed along with the goals set out in the 2030 Agenda, the Sustainable Development Goals and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda, we will look to these neighbours to become regional partners in developing economic stability and regional growth.
In 2017–18, Australia provided $3.9 billion in Official Development Assistance (ODA). The Australian Aid Program reduces poverty, promotes sustainable economic growth, and advances Australia’s national interest. We are committed to improving the lives of the most vulnerable in the Indo-Pacific region where we will invest over 90 per cent of our bilateral and regional aid.
Responding to record levels of global displacement and humanitarian need, Australia increased its humanitarian assistance to $399.7 million in 2017–18. Our core multi-year funding to multilateral agencies allows flexible, efficient, and rapid responses to emerging crises.
In addition, a new three-year $100 million commitment (including $30 million in 2017–18) will support the humanitarian needs of the people of Iraq and stabilise those areas newly liberated from ISIS. It builds on our multi-year regional humanitarian response to the Syria crisis announced last year and provides funding certainty to partners to ensure efficient, effective and timely delivery of assistance. Our support will target the most vulnerable, with particular emphasis on women, girls, and the disabled, who are disproportionately affected by these crises.
Peace and security are paramount to development. In 2017–18, Australia committed $141 million to the Solomon Islands to promote peace, justice, and inclusion, following the conclusion of the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) in June 2017. We extended our $80 million annual aid program to Afghanistan from 2017 to 2020, as pledged at the 2016 Brussels Conference on Afghanistan.
The Government has placed gender equality and empowering women and girls at the heart of the aid program — in 2017–18 the Government provided $55 million to the Gender Equality Fund, including $5.4 million for the Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development initiative.
Australia will spend $300 million on climate change and resilience activities in Pacific Island countries, including $75 million for disaster preparedness over four years (2016–2020), an additional $80 million on previous levels.
The Government announced a $10.5 million package of Australian support to assist Tonga’s recovery and reconstruction efforts following the cyclone on 12 February 2018. Additionally, Australia’s humanitarian aid in response to the Papua New Guinea earthquake on 26 February 2018 has now reached $5 million.