The Gillard Government will deliver on its election promise to boost Australia's commitment to Official Development Assistance (ODA) funding to 0.5 per cent of Gross National Income (GNI) by 2015-16.
Australia's ODA/GNI ratio is forecast to increase to 0.35 per cent over the coming financial year.
The Government is committed to ensuring that every dollar spent on aid has the maximum possible impact on poverty and economic development.
In November 2010 the Government commissioned the first independent review of the aid program in almost 15 years. The Independent Review of Aid Effectiveness was conducted by a panel of eminent persons, led by Mr Sandy Hollway AO. The panel submitted its report on 29 April 2011.
Reducing poverty is in our national security and economic interest. Poverty breeds instability and extremism in our region and globally, and creates conditions that lead to more refugees, as people flee from violence or hardship.
Two thirds of the world's poor live in Australia's region — of our twenty nearest neighbours, eighteen are developing countries. Many of these countries are also important trading partners. In 2009, we exported almost $90 billion in goods and services to the major countries where Australian aid is delivered.
New aid investments in the 2011-12 Budget, totalling $1.9 billion over four years, will implement the Gillard Government's aid commitments on water and sanitation, education, maternal and child health, avoidable blindness, eliminating violence against women and increasing the number of volunteers in the aid program, as set out in the 2010 election statement 'A Good International Citizen: Australia's development assistance'.
Development partnership with Indonesia
Australia's development partnership with Indonesia will continue to grow, particularly in education and rural infrastructure, with the Gillard Government investing $492.8 million over four years.
Education is a flagship of the Gillard Government's aid program as it is fundamental to reducing poverty. Supporting moderate Islamic education in Indonesia is also an important part of promoting religious tolerance.
The Australia-Indonesia Education Partnership will build a further 2,000 junior secondary schools in Indonesia, benefiting 300,000 children, train over 10,000 teachers and assist around 1,500 Islamic schools to achieve the standards required for national accreditation.
Further assistance will deliver small scale rural infrastructure and provide community development grants to 80,000 poor villages; improve poor people's access to justice by piloting legal aid in fifty courts; and improve the quality of tertiary education.
Increasing access to education in the Pacific
The Government will invest a further $124.5 million over four years in education programs to improve enrolment and completion rates in the Pacific by training teachers, updating curricula and reducing the cost of schooling to poor families.
Expanding Australian development volunteer and NGO programs
Australians have strong connections with people and communities in developing countries, providing much needed assistance in the wake of emergencies and disasters, as well as addressing longer-term development needs through their sponsorships and ongoing charitable donations to Australian non-government organisations (NGOs).
The Gillard Government will invest a further $244.0 million over four years to expand community engagement in the Australian aid program. This will provide more than 900 volunteer assignments in 2011-12, increasing to 1,000 a year from 2012-13 and double the AusAID-NGO Cooperation Program by 2014-15, expanding its scope and enabling ten more Australian NGOs to participate in the program.
Eliminating violence against women
The empowerment of women and girls is crucial to development. The Gillard Government will invest $96.4 million over four years to help women affected by violence in Asia and the Pacific and other countries.
These funds will support women's crisis centres in the Pacific, improve the response of international peace-keepers to gender-based violence, and continue our support for UN Women, the United Nations agency charged with promoting gender equality and the empowerment of women.
Improving water, sanitation and hygiene
The Gillard Government will provide $433.1 million over four years to help provide over four million people with access to safe water, basic sanitation and improved hygiene practices, particularly in Asia.
Tackling avoidable blindness
More than 8,000 sufferers of avoidable blindness will be treated and a further 100,000 people in East Asia will be provided with screening following the Government's investment of $21.3 million over four years.
Increased development assistance to Africa and the Middle East
Improving maternal health, reducing infant mortality and providing access to safe water and sanitation will be the major focus of the Gillard Government's increased assistance to Africa and the Middle East, with an additional $462.6 million over four years.
Our assistance will focus on areas where Australia can make the most difference, including: improving maternal and child health by training over 300 new midwives and improving obstetric and newborn health care in East Africa; providing access to safe water and sanitation to 1.2 million people in Southern Africa; working with Australian non-government organisations (NGOs)to provide African communities with access to basic services; improving health and education in the Palestinian Territories; and building the capacity of African Governments in areas where Australia has expertise such as natural resource management.
The Government will continue to respond to key humanitarian crises in the region, such as the increasingly serious situation in Libya.
Humanitarian assistance, stabilisation and peace building
In 2011-12, humanitarian, emergency and refugee-related aid expenditure is estimated to increase to $325.0 million.
This will support Australia's key humanitarian partners including the United Nations humanitarian organisations, the Red Cross, and other non-government organisations to meet urgent humanitarian needs in Asia, the Pacific, Africa and other developing regions.
The Australian Civilian Corps established an interim capacity in 2009-10 to deploy trained technical specialists to countries affected by natural disaster or conflict.
The Gillard Government will invest $32.0 million over four years to enable the Australian Civilian Corps to deploy specialists to countries affected by natural disasters and conflicts.
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