Australia

Australia’s development co-operation focuses on countries in the Indo-Pacific region. Through its development co-operation, Australia works to reaffirm and strengthen the centrality of gender equality, disability and LGBTQIA+ rights in its foreign policy. Australia’s total official development assistance (ODA) increased in 2023 to USD 3.3 billion (preliminary data), representing 0.19% of gross national income (GNI).

Find the methodological notes behind the profile here.

Australia published a new international development policy in 2023 following an extensive consultation. The policy articulates Australia’s ambition to contribute to a peaceful, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific region, including supporting ambitious action on climate change. Priorities include working with partners to build effective, accountable states; enhancing state and community resilience; connecting development assistance with regional architecture; and generating collective action on global challenges. Additionally, Australia is developing an LGBTQIA+ strategy for its development co-operation efforts.

Australia effectively uses regional and multilateral channels to pursue its priorities. It advocates in the United Nations (UN) system and multilateral development banks for the needs of the Indo-Pacific region and the unique vulnerabilities of small island developing states (SIDS). Australia also supports global public goods by funding multilateral funds and organisations, particularly in the area of global health.

While poverty reduction is not one of the explicit objectives of Australia’s International Development Policy, it is recognised as an essential means of achieving Australia’s international development objectives in the Indo-Pacific region. Australia’s approach to poverty reduction strongly emphasises horizontal dimensions of inequalities – primarily gender and, to some extent, disability – and seeks to embed them in the programme cycle as cross-cutting objectives. Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is developing dedicated strategies on gender equality and disability equity and rights. Australia also has an indigenous diplomacy agenda and a guidance note on reaching indigenous people through development co-operation. Its approach to other dimensions of poverty and inequalities is less explicitly documented.

The 2021 OECD-DAC mid-term review found that Australia had substantially changed its development co-operation to respond to the impacts of COVID-19 in the Indo-Pacific region. It commended Australia’s partner-driven approach and its efforts to integrate development policy capabilities alongside foreign policy and trade within DFAT. The review encouraged Australia to increase its ODA, align its policy and performance framework to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), broaden its efforts on policy coherence for sustainable development beyond the Pacific region, and grow its staffing capabilities. Australia’s next peer review is planned for 2025. Learn more about Australia’s 2021 OECD-DAC mid-term review [DCD/DAC/AR(2024)3/23] and 2018 peer review.

Australia provided USD 3.3 billion (preliminary data) of ODA in 2023 (USD 3.3 billion in constant terms), representing 0.19% of GNI.1 This was an increase of 7.6% in real terms in volume and a decrease in the share of GNI from 2022. Australia's ODA volume declined substantially after 2012 and has hovered around USD 3 billion over the past seven years. Australia is not in line with its international commitments to achieve a 0.7% ODA/GNI ratio. Within Australia's ODA portfolio in 2022, 97.1% was provided in the form of grants and 2.9% in the form of non-grants.2

Australia ranks 26th among DAC member countries when ODA is taken as a share of GNI. Australia stands out for the relatively high share of gross bilateral ODA that is programmable by country (69.4% in 2022). In line with its policy priorities, Australia's ODA continues to be strongly focused on SIDS, which equals 37% of gross bilateral ODA in 2022, and the Pacific. In 2021-22, Australia ranked 3rd among DAC member countries for the share of bilateral ODA commitments allocated to persons with disabilities.

Australia is committed to several international targets and Development Assistance Committee standards and recommendations. Learn more about DAC recommendations.

Australia provided most of its ODA bilaterally in 2022. Gross bilateral ODA was 85.2% of total ODA disbursements. Twenty-eight per cent of gross bilateral ODA was channelled through multilateral organisations (earmarked contributions). Australia allocated 14.8% of the total ODA as core contributions to multilateral organisations.

In 2023, Australia provided USD 6.9 million (preliminary data) of net bilateral ODA to Ukraine to respond to the impacts of Russia's war of aggression, an 84.8% decrease from 2022 in real terms. The support was provided as humanitarian assistance.

In 2022, Australia provided USD 1.2 billion of gross ODA to the multilateral system, a fall of 18.3% in real terms from 2021. Of this, USD 456.6 million was core multilateral ODA, while USD 737 million was non-core contributions earmarked for a specific country, region, theme or purpose. Project-type funding earmarked for a specific theme and/or country accounted for 93.5% of Australia's non-core contributions, and 6.5% was programmatic funding (to pooled funds and specific-purpose programmes and funds).

Seventy-three per cent of Australia's total contributions to multilateral organisations in 2022 were allocated to the UN system and the World Bank.

The United Nations (UN) system received 48.7% of Australia's multilateral contributions, of which USD 434.9 million (74.9%) represented earmarked contributions. Out of a total volume of USD 580.8 million to the UN system, the top three UN recipients of Australia's support (core and earmarked contributions) were the WFP (USD 124.8 million), UNDP (USD 72.3 million) and UNICEF (USD 60.2 million).

See the section Geographic, sectoral and thematic focus of ODA for the breakdown of bilateral allocations, including ODA earmarked through the multilateral development system. Learn more about multilateral development finance.

In 2022, Australia's bilateral spending declined compared to the previous year. It provided USD 2.6 billion of gross bilateral ODA (which includes earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations). This represented a decrease of 14.4% in real terms from 2021.

In 2022, country programmable aid was 69.4% of Australia's gross bilateral ODA, compared to the DAC country average of 42%. Australia does not report in-donor refugee costs.

In 2022, Australia channelled bilateral ODA mainly through other channels and multilateral organisations as earmarked funding. Technical co-operation made up 20.5% of gross ODA in 2022.

In 2022, civil society organisations (CSOs) received USD 309.2 million of gross bilateral ODA, of which 16.3% was directed to CSOs based in developing countries. Overall, 0.2% of gross bilateral ODA was allocated to CSOs as core contributions and 11.6% was channelled through CSOs to implement projects initiated by the donor (earmarked funding). From 2021 to 2022, the combined core and earmarked contributions for CSOs increased slightly as a share of bilateral ODA, from 11.4% to 11.8%. Learn more about the DAC Recommendation on Enabling Civil Society in Development Co-operation and Humanitarian Aid.

In 2022, Australia's bilateral ODA was primarily focused on Oceania. USD 1 billion was allocated to Oceania and USD 993.1 million to Asia, accounting for 39.7% and 37.8% of gross bilateral ODA, respectively. USD 64 million was allocated to Africa. Asia was the main regional recipient of Australia's earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations. This reflects Australia's policy priorities.

In 2022, 50% of gross bilateral ODA went to Australia's top 10 recipients. Australia's top 10 recipients are in the Asia-Pacific region, in line with its focus on its immediate neighbourhood and Australia's policy priorities. The share of gross bilateral ODA not allocated by country was 26.8%, of which USD 194.7 million was spent on administrative costs.

In 2022, Australia allocated 0.04% of its GNI as ODA to the least developed countries (LDCs). The highest share of Australia's gross bilateral ODA was allocated to lower middle income countries in 2022 (42.6%), noting that 26.8% was unallocated by income group. LDCs received 23.2% of Australia's gross bilateral ODA (USD 609.4 million). Australia allocated 37% of gross bilateral ODA to SIDS in 2022, equal to USD 972.3 million. Additionally, Australia allocated 6.1% of gross bilateral ODA to land-locked developing countries in 2022, equal to USD 160.6 million.

Support to fragile contexts was USD 1.1 billion in 2022, representing 42.4% of Australia's gross bilateral ODA. Eighteen per cent of this ODA was provided in the form of humanitarian assistance, increasing from 12.3% in 2021, while 18.5% was allocated to peace, up slightly from 17.1% in 2021. Two per cent went to conflict prevention, a subset of contributions to peace, representing an increase from 0.9% in 2021. Learn more about support to fragile contexts on the States of Fragility platform.

In 2022, almost half of Australia's bilateral ODA was allocated to social infrastructure and services. Investments in this area accounted for 49% of bilateral ODA commitments (USD 1.3 billion) with a strong focus on support to health and population policies (USD 474.7 million), government and civil society (USD 441.2 million) and education (USD 221.1 million). Commitments to health and population accounted for 18.1% of gross bilateral ODA, representing a 94.7% increase from 2019 in real terms. Humanitarian assistance amounted to USD 390.6 million (14.9% of bilateral ODA). ODA for economic infrastructure totalled USD 272.9 million, focusing on transport and storage (USD 157.3 million). Earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations focused primarily on social sectors and humanitarian assistance in 2022.

In 2022, Australia disbursed USD 1 billion in ODA for the COVID-19 response, down from USD 1.7 billion in 2021. Regarding COVID-19 vaccines, Australia provided USD 80 million in ODA for donations of doses bought for developing countries in 2022.

In the period 2021-22, Australia committed 43.8% of its screened bilateral allocable aid to gender equality and women's empowerment, as either a principal or significant objective (up from 38.9% in 2019-20), compared with the 2021-22 DAC average of 43.3%. This is equal to USD 1.1 billion of bilateral ODA in support of gender equality. Unpacking the gender equality data further:

  • The share of screened bilateral allocable aid committed to gender equality and women's empowerment as a principal objective was 6.4% in 2021-22, compared with the DAC average of 3.9%.

  • Australia includes gender equality objectives in 64.1% of its ODA for humanitarian aid, above the 2021-22 DAC average of 17%.

  • Australia screens the majority of their bilateral allocable aid activities against the DAC gender equality policy marker (99.8% in 2021-22).

  • Australia committed USD 36.6 million of ODA to end violence against women and girls and USD 12.8 million to support women's rights organisations and movements and government institutions in 2021-22.

Learn more about Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women and Girls: DAC Guidance for Development Partners and the DAC Recommendation on Ending Sexual Exploitation in Development Co-operation.

In 2021-22, Australia committed 39.7% of its total bilateral allocable aid (USD 1 billion) in support of the environment and the Rio Conventions (the DAC average was 35.1%), up slightly from 38.3% in 2019-20. Unpacking the environmental data further:

  • Two per cent of screened bilateral allocable aid focused on environmental issues as a principal objective, compared with the DAC average of 11%.

  • Thirty-nine per cent of total bilateral allocable aid (USD 1 billion) focused on climate change overall, up from 30.3% in 2019-20 (the DAC average was 30.5%). Australia had a greater focus on adaptation (38.1%) than on mitigation (16.6%) in 2021-22.

  • Five per cent of screened bilateral allocable aid (USD 138.5 million) focused on biodiversity overall, down from 7.8% in 2019-20 (the DAC average was 7.2%).

Learn more about the DAC Declaration on Aligning Development Co-operation with the Goals of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change [DAC/CHAIR(2021)1/FINAL].

The OECD initiative Sustainable Oceans for All shows that Australia committed USD 90.8 million in support of the conservation and sustainable use of the ocean in 2022, USD 58.6 million more than in 2021. The 2022 value is equivalent to 3.8% of Australia's bilateral allocable aid.

In 2022, Australia also:

  • Committed USD 14.4 million of bilateral ODA to the mobilisation of domestic resources in developing countries, amounting to 0.6% of its bilateral allocable aid. Regarding the payment of local tax and customs duties for ODA-funded goods and services, Australia seeks duty exemptions. It makes information available on the OECD OECD Digital Transparency Hub on the Tax Treatment of ODA.

  • Committed USD 450.3 million (18.7% of its bilateral allocable aid) to promote aid for trade and improve developing countries' trade performance and integration into the world economy.

  • Committed USD 240.1 million (10% of its bilateral allocable aid) to address the immediate or underlying determinants of malnutrition in developing countries across a variety of sectors, such as emergency response, water supply & sanitation and government & civil society.

  • Committed USD 814.7 million (33.9% of its bilateral allocable aid) to development co-operation projects and programmes that promote the inclusion and empowerment of persons with disabilities.

Australia uses leveraging mechanisms to mobilise private finance for sustainable development. In 2022, Australia mobilised USD 114.5 million from the private sector through shares in collective investment vehicles and syndicated loans.

In 2022, Australia extended USD 29.3 million in the form of loans to the private sector.

Sixty per cent of Australia's private sector instruments went to upper-middle income countries. Moreover, USD 11.5 million were unallocated by income. Australia's private sector instruments mostly supported projects in the energy sector (60.8%).

The Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation monitoring exercise tracks the implementation of the effectiveness commitments. Following the reform of the exercise over 2020-22, the 4th global monitoring round (2023-26) is underway. Information on partner countries' participation in the exercise and their progress is available at the Global Dashboard. Australia's results from the 2016 and 2018 monitoring rounds can be found here.

To help improve the transparency of development co-operation, the OECD provides regular feedback to members on the overall quality of their statistical reporting and works with each member to ensure the data meet high quality standards before they are published. Regarding DAC/CRS reporting to the OECD, Australia's reporting in 2022 was on time, with some areas for improvement in terms of the completeness and accuracy of the data. 

Total official support for sustainable development (TOSSD) is an international statistical standard that monitors all official and officially supported resources for financing the SDGs in developing countries, as well as for addressing global challenges. It provides a broad measure of development finance with the objective of increasing transparency and accountability of all external support that developing countries receive. In 2022, activities reported by Australia as TOSSD totalled USD 3.7 billion, a similar level to 2021. Australia's TOSSD activities mostly targeted SDG 4 Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all, and SDG 13 Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts. Activity-level data on TOSSD by recipient are available at https://tossd.online.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has overall responsibility for development co-operation policy and is responsible for most of Australia’s ODA budget. Within DFAT, development-related work cuts across many divisions, with geographic divisions and embassies responsible for managing country and regional development programmes. A Development Program Subcommittee provides oversight and governance of the overall development co-operation programme to ensure that it is consistent with the government’s policy. It advises the Secretary of DFAT and the Executive Committee, and engages with the department’s other subcommittees.

DFAT has around 1 500 staff working on development, 32% of whom are in-country offices and embassies abroad. Approximately a quarter of all staff working on development are locally engaged.

The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research, the Australian Federal Police, the Department of Treasury, and other federal departments and agencies contribute to Australia’s development co-operation efforts. The Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade provides additional accountability towards Australia’s Federal Parliament.

CSOs active in development co-operation, humanitarian assistance and global citizenship education are co-ordinated by the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID), supporting policy engagement with the Australian government.

The Committee for Development Co-operation (CDC), established in 1975, is a joint DFAT and civil society advisory body made up of members from the Australian CSO community and DFAT. The CDC meets a minimum of three times a year and is chaired by DFAT. ACFID and DFAT jointly provide secretariat services to the CDC.

Internal systems and processes help ensure the effective delivery of Australia’s development co-operation. Select features are shown in the table below.

2021 OECD-DAC mid-term review of Australia: https://one.oecd.org/document/DCD/DAC/AR(2024)3/23/en/pdf

2018 OECD-DAC peer review of Australia: https://www.oecd.org/dac/peer-reviews/oecd-development-co-operation-peer-reviews-australia-2018-9789264293366-en.htm

Australia's development program: https://www.dfat.gov.au/development/australias-development-program

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT): https://dfat.gov.au/pages/default.aspx

CSO umbrella organisation, the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID): https://acfid.asn.au

Australia's practices on the Development Co-operation TIPs: Tools Insights Practices learning platform: https://www.oecd.org/development-cooperation-learning?tag-key+partner=australia#search

Member of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (DAC) since 1966.

The methodological notes provide further details on the definitions and statistical methodologies applied, including the grant-equivalent methodology, core and earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations, country programmable aid, channels of delivery, bilateral ODA unspecified/unallocated, bilateral allocable aid, the gender equality policy marker, and the environment markers.

Notes

← 1. DAC members adopted the grant-equivalent methodology starting from their reporting of 2018 data as a more accurate way to count the donor effort in development loans. See the methodological notes for further details.

← 2. Non-grants include sovereign loans, multilateral loans, equity investment and loans to the private sector.

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