ACFID, the peak body for Australian agencies providing foreign aid, has strongly criticised recent Government cuts to the Australian aid budget.
$1 billion has been cut from Australian aid in this year’s Budget, amputating effective aid programs and reducing Australia’s capacity to alleviate poverty and build prosperity and stability in our region, according to the peak body for Australia’s aid agencies.
“Millions of women, children, and men in poor communities in our region who benefited from our highly effective aid program will no longer get a helping hand from Australia,” said ACFID Executive Director, Marc Purcell.
“These Budget cuts will damage Australia’s relations with our neighbouring countries. We have hamstrung our ability to tackle global and regional issues that affect us all: poverty, conflict, terrorism, climate change, migration, disease and poor governance,” Mr Purcell said.
“Joe Hockey has delivered on his threat to cut 20% from the Australian aid program. This is the single biggest cut to aid spending since Australia’s aid program started. A further $2.7 billion is forecast to be cut from the aid program over the next two years. Total cuts to the aid program since the Government was elected are $11.3 billion.
“The budget figures show that by 2016-17, our aid budget as a share of national income will fall to just 0.22%, or 22 cents in every $100.
“We have a shrunken aid program – and will become an insular and less fair Australia as a result.
“These massive budget cuts shrink Australia’s place in the world, reducing our ranking from 13 to 16 out of 28 countries in the OECD aid generosity index by 2018 below New Zealand, Ireland and Belgium.
“Australia’s aid to Afghanistan is nearly halved, yet this is the country we said we would never cut and run from.
“Burma, where Australia scaled up its aid saying it was vital to support stability as it opened up to the world has had its aid programs slashed by 40%.
“Africa, which is home to 18 of the poorest countries in the world, has sustained the biggest single cut with 70% axed from poverty programs.
“In a year when Ebola threatened the global health system, it’s astounding that we have cut our contribution to the World Health Organisation by 40%.
“In a year where natural disasters have devastated countries in our region, it is good that humanitarian funding has remained constant and that bilateral aid to Nepal and Vanuatu continue untouched.
“Funding to Australian aid agencies is mixed, with the main funding program being cut by only 5%, while funding to other programs in Africa and in water and sanitation are likely to be axed in coming weeks.
“The Australian volunteer program which supports citizen ambassadors around the world has been cut by a third,” Mr Purcell said.