Media Release | 7 October 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a rethink of the Australian overseas aid program, according to poverty advocacy group, RESULTS International Australia.

In the 2020-2021 Federal Budget, the current Overseas Aid Program commitment remains largely the same, however the Government has committed an additional $304.7 million to a COVID-19 recovery fund for the Pacific and Timor Leste which is a welcome initiative.

“Various reports have shown that the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to undo decades of progress in reducing poverty and advancing human development. Therefore, increased investments in international development programs, as well as direct support for COVID-19 recovery, are essential if we are to protect this progress,” said RESULTS Australia’s CEO, Negaya Chorley.

Australia needs to provide increases in assistance for health, education and livelihoods programs beyond the Pacific region to address the broader impacts of COVID-19 effectively.

“ The measures in the Budget to assist countries respond to COVID-19 are a good start, and we will continue to call on the Government to build on these initiatives in the lead-up to next year’s Budget,” Ms Chorley said.

The 2020-21 aid program incorporates $300 million over five years to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and $80 million to the Advance Market Commitment for COVAX, the international mechanism to ensure all countries can access COVID-19 vaccines equitably.

The extra assistance for the COVID-19 response in 2020-21 is a small fraction of the large increase in domestic Government spending to address the impacts of the pandemic.

“The Government is doing ‘whatever it takes’ to promote recovery in activity and employment in Australia. However, it is falling short in supporting poor countries hit hard by COVID-19. This makes calling for further action in the lead-up to next year’s Budget even more important,” Ms Chorley added.

ENDS

Media Contact: Emily Hammerl I emily.hammerl.@results.org.au care of 0448 732 198