Australia

Australia focuses its development co-operation efforts on health, social and economic shocks in developing countries in the Indo-Pacific region. Its official development assistance (ODA) as a share of national income has declined in the past decade, and most ODA is channelled bilaterally. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is responsible for setting and implementing development policy. Australia mobilises finance from the private sector through simple co-financing arrangements.

The 2018 OECD-DAC peer review commended Australia’s effort to focus its development co-operation programme, and its concerted effort to catalyse and support innovation across the Australian aid programme. It also recognised Australia’s international voice on behalf of small island developing states (SIDS). The review encouraged Australia to improve internal learning and external communications and restore its ODA levels. Learn more about the 2018 OECD-DAC peer review of Australia.

Australia’s recent policy Partnerships for Recovery: Australia’s COVID-19 Development Response (2020) and the 2017 Foreign Policy White Paper guide its development co-operation, which is pivoting to respond to the health, social and economic shocks in developing countries due to COVID-19. It will continue to focus on its immediate neighbourhood, the Indo-Pacific region, and will prioritise health security, stability and economic recovery.

Australia provided less ODA in 2019 than in the previous year, with a fall of 2.5% in real terms from 2018. Total ODA on a grant-equivalent basis stood at USD 2.9 billion (preliminary data), representing 0.22% of Australia’s gross national income (GNI) in 2019.1 In 2019, Australia ranked 19th among DAC member countries when ODA is taken as a share of GNI. Total ODA on a grant-equivalent basis has the same value as net ODA under the cash-flow methodology used in the past, as Australia provides only grants.2

Despite a modest rise in ODA in 2018, Australia’s development budget remains below 2012 levels, when it peaked. Australia channels most of its aid bilaterally, uses public sector channels, and commits over half of its bilateral allocable aid to gender equality and women’s empowerment. Australia’s bilateral ODA is focused geographically in line with its policy focus on Asia and Oceania. See the methodological notes for details on the definitions and statistical methodologies applied.

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In 2018, Australia provided most of its ODA bilaterally. Gross bilateral ODA was 81% of total ODA, of which 23% was channelled through multilateral organisations (earmarked contributions). Australia allocated 19% of total ODA as core contributions to multilateral organisations.

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In 2018, Australia increased its total support (core and earmarked contributions) to multilateral organisations. It provided USD 1.2 billion of gross ODA to the multilateral system, an increase of 8.2% in real terms from 2017. Of this, USD 599 million was core multilateral ODA and the rest was earmarked for a specific country, region, theme or purpose. Project aid earmarked for a specific project or purpose (tight earmarking) accounted for 26% of Australia’s non-core contributions, while the remaining 74% was softly earmarked (to pooled funds and specific-purpose programmes and funds).

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In 2018, Australia’s total contribution to multilateral organisations was mainly allocated to the United Nations (UN), the World Bank Group and regional development banks. These contributions together accounted for 89% of Australia’s total support to the multilateral system. The UN system received 37% of total multilateral contributions, mainly through earmarked contributions. Out of a total gross volume of USD 446 million to the UN system, the top three UN recipients of Australia’s support (core and earmarked contributions) were: the United Nations Development Programme (USD 73 million), the World Food Programme (USD 70 million) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (USD 47 million).

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Note: See the list of UN acronyms.

See the section on “Geographic and thematic focus of ODA” for the geographical and thematic breakdown of bilateral allocations earmarked through the multilateral development system. Learn more about multilateral development finance.

In 2018, Australia’s bilateral spending increased compared to the previous year. It provided USD 2.6 billion as gross bilateral ODA (including earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations), which represented an increase of 5.7% in real terms from 2017.

In 2019, providers of development co-operation started voluntarily reporting to the OECD data on how ODA focuses on the Sustainable Development Goals for 2018 activities. In 2018, Australia focused most of its bilateral ODA on addressing the goals of the UN 2030 Agenda for peace, justice and strong institutions; education; and health.

In 2018, country programmable aid was 64% of Australia’s gross bilateral ODA, compared to a DAC country average of 49%.

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Note: NGO: non-governmental organisation.

In 2018, Australia channelled its bilateral ODA mainly through the public sector, and multilateral organisations as earmarked funding.

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Note: NGO: non-governmental organisation; PPP: public-private partnership.

In 2018, civil society organisations (CSOs) received USD 263 million of gross bilateral ODA. Two per cent was allocated to CSOs as core contributions and 8% was channelled through CSOs to implement projects initiated by Australia (earmarked funding). Between 2017 and 2018, core and earmarked contributions to CSOs remained stable as a share of bilateral ODA, at 10%. Learn more about ODA allocations to and through CSOs and civil society engagement in development co-operation.

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In 2018, Australia’s bilateral ODA was primarily focused on Asia and Oceania. USD 946 million was allocated to Asia and USD 842 million to Oceania, accounting respectively for 37% and 33% of gross bilateral ODA. USD 74 million was allocated to Africa. Asia and Oceania were also among the main regional recipients of Australia’s earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations. Twenty-seven per cent of gross bilateral ODA was unspecified by region in 2018.

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Bilateral ODA by recipient country

In 2018, 46.5% of gross bilateral ODA went to Australia’s top 10 recipients. Its top 10 recipients are in the Asia-Pacific region, where Australia has programmes with 25 countries, in line with its policy priorities. The share of gross bilateral ODA that was not allocated by country was 34%.

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In 2018, least developed countries (LDCs) received 22.4% of Australia’s gross bilateral ODA (USD 571 million). This is in line with the DAC country average of 23.8%. Australia allocated the highest share of gross bilateral ODA (37%) to lower middle-income countries in 2018, noting that 34% was unallocated by income group. Australia allocated USD 794 million to SIDS in 2018, equal to 31.1% of gross bilateral ODA.

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Note: LDC: least developed country; LIC: low-income country; LMIC: lower middle-income country; UMIC: upper middle-income country; MADCTs: more advanced developing countries and territories.

Support to fragile contexts reached USD 981 million of gross bilateral ODA in 2018 (38.4% of gross bilateral ODA). Extremely fragile contexts received 16% of this amount. Learn more about support to fragile contexts on the States of Fragility platform.

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Note: The chart represents only gross bilateral ODA that is allocated by country.

In 2018, most of Australia’s bilateral ODA was allocated to social infrastructure and services. Investments in this area accounted for 45% of bilateral ODA commitments (USD 1.1 billion), with a focus on support to government and civil society (USD 491 million), health (USD 244 million), and education (USD 216 million). Bilateral humanitarian aid amounted to USD 183 million (7% of bilateral ODA). Earmarked contributions to multilateral organisations also focused on social infrastructure and services and humanitarian aid in 2018.

In 2018, Australia committed USD 20.5 million of ODA to the mobilisation of domestic resources in developing countries, amounting to 0.9% of bilateral allocable aid. Australia also committed USD 428.4 million (18.2% of bilateral allocable aid) to promote aid for trade and improve developing countries’ trade performance and integration into the world economy in 2018.

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In 2018, Australia committed 56% of its bilateral allocable aid to gender equality and women’s empowerment as either a principal or significant objective (up from 50% in 2017),3 compared with the DAC country average of 42%. This is equal to USD 1.3 billion of bilateral ODA commitments in support of gender equality. Out of this, the share of bilateral allocable aid committed to gender equality and women’s empowerment as a principal objective was 17%, compared with the DAC country average of 4%. A significantly higher share of interventions on social infrastructure and services addresses gender equality than those on economic infrastructure. Australia screens virtually all activities against the gender marker (99.1% in 2018). Learn more about ODA focused on gender equality and the DAC Network on Gender Equality.

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In 2018, Australia committed 17% of its bilateral allocable aid (USD 401 million) in support of the environment as either a principal or significant objective, the same share as in 2017 (the DAC country average was 33%). Four per cent focused on environmental issues as a principal objective, compared with the DAC country average of 11%. Thirteen per cent (USD 313 million) focused on climate change as either a principal or significant objective, down from 15% in 2017 (the DAC country average was 26%). Australia has a greater focus on adaptation (13% in 2018) than on mitigation (9%). Learn more about climate-related development finance.

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Data analysis for the OECD initiative Sustainable Oceans for All shows that Australia committed USD 24.4 million in support of the conservation and sustainable use of the ocean in 2018, amounting to 1% of bilateral allocable aid. Learn more about ODA focused on the ocean economy.

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In 2018, Australia did not report private finance mobilised by ODA. However, in 2017, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) mobilised USD 5.7 million from the private sector through simple co-financing arrangements.

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Of the country-allocable finance mobilised from the private sector in 2017, 99% targeted middle-income countries and 1% targeted the LDCs.

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Note: LDC: least developed country; LMIC: lower middle-income country.

Australia’s private finance mobilised in 2017 related to activities in the business and other services (80%) and industry, mining and construction (20%) sectors. Learn more about the amounts mobilised from the private sector for development.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has overall responsibility for development co-operation policy and is responsible for most of Australia’s ODA budget. This follows a restructuring process in 2013 which led to the integration of the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) into DFAT. The Australian Federal Police and the Department of Treasury, among others, also contribute to Australia’s development efforts.

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The Office of Development Effectiveness (ODE) is an operationally independent unit within DFAT. It assesses DFAT’s internal aid management systems, evaluates the performance of the Australian aid programme, and contributes to evidence and debate about aid effectiveness. The Independent Evaluation Committee ensures external oversight. DFAT’s Aid Evaluation Policy, developed by the ODE, has a focus on maximising the use of findings and recommendations stemming from evaluations. The policy sets out why evaluations are undertaken, mandating that evaluations are published with management responses in a timely manner. Read more about Australia’s evaluation system.

The ODE prepares an annual aid evaluation plan, as required by the policy. The 2020 plan is on hold due to DFAT’s COVID-19 response. Read more about Australia’s evaluation plan.

Visit the DAC Evaluation Resource Centre website for evaluations of Australian development co-operation.

Explore the Monitoring Dashboard of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Co-operation.

Australian Aid: https://dfat.gov.au/aid/Pages/australias-aid-program.aspx

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

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.

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

← 2. All 2019 statistics in this paragraph are expressed in current prices and, therefore, they may differ from values in the ODA volume chart, which uses constant prices.

← 3. The use of the recommended minimum criteria for the marker by some members in recent years can result in lower levels of aid reported as being focused on gender equality.

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https://doi.org/10.1787/2dcf1367-en

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