Australia has incrementally increased its aid budget and whilst this is a step in the right direction, there is still the risk of missing a critical opportunity to better tackle poverty and rising humanitarian needs regionally and globally, aid agency CARE Australia has warned.
With the 2023-24 Federal Budget, Australia does only a little to change record lows of aid, with the OECD recently ranking us 27 out of 30 member states on the ladder of generosity of donor nations.
The current aid budget shows some improvement but is not enough to adequately address slowing growth, the catastrophic impacts of climate change and a rapidly widening gender gap. The cost-of-living crisis is impacting the most vulnerable in all countries, only nominal increases to the aid budget will result in real world cuts to the effectiveness of aid.
Further, CARE Australia Chief Executive, Peter Walton, said that:
“No doubt the Australian budget should ensure the wellbeing of ordinary Australians in addition to those in need of assistance abroad. The latter have been increasingly neglected in recent years, compounded by the impacts of the pandemic. We need greater and more predictable longer term aid funding which can lead to deeper and more sustainable impact, especially if more is done to better support locally led impact.”
“We welcome some of the shift back to development priorities and transparency in the aid budget, Australia should practice principled and not transactional aid.”
“However, much of the focus still remains on infrastructure, multilateral and capital investment, with comparatively less on the required ‘social infrastructure’ of gender equality and sustainable support to local civil society. This is critical to ensuring aid can rise to meet the global challenges we face. As the new international development policy is released we hope that it better reflects solidarity and equity with our partners and genuinely listens to them, including women’s voices at the local level.”
Mr Walton said organisations like CARE Australia and our local partners know just how much Australian Aid means to those struggling to survive in an era of concurrent crises.
“Whilst the continued focus on the Pacific is welcomed, this should not be at the expense of countries further afield that still need significant development and humanitarian support.”
“For a Rohingya refugee woman in Bangladesh, Australian Aid can be (and is) the difference between accessing the care she needs during pregnancy or dying in labour. Between earning an income for her family or making the difficult decision to arrange a child marriage for her daughter as a way to survive.”
“As humanitarians we deliver lifesaving and essential services often on a shoestring budget when compared to the overall Australian budget. As CARE Australia, we know that investing in women is one of the most effective ways to help communities defeat poverty, something Australian Aid can do a great deal more to achieve.”
For interviews with CARE CEO Peter Walton contact Soman Moodley on 0421 730 854
CARE supports women around the globe to save lives, defeat poverty and achieve social justice. We work in partnership with local communities to provide equal opportunities for women that they have long been denied: the ability to earn an income, gain access to their fair share of resources, to lead and participate in decisions that affect their lives, and to be able to withstand the increasing impacts of climate disasters and other crises. www.care.org.au