Foreign aid budget: still much damage to undo, says CARE Australia

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Dorina had her baby with the help of a maternal health volunteer, trained by an Australian government funded CARE program (©Tom Greenwood/CARE).

THE Government has announced a rare reprieve for the freefalling foreign aid budget, with its value to once again be tied to inflation from 2022-23.

The 2019-20 budget maintains international development assistance, at record low amounts, and maintains the commitment from 2018 to re-introduce indexation in 2022-23.

But CARE Australia Chief Executive, Sally Moyle, said this was not enough to undo five consecutive years of cuts:

“For years the federal budget process has seen money taken out of programs that enable underprivileged children to get an education and bring clean water to families living in poverty. Even with this small increase, our international development program in 2023 will be a billion dollars behind where it was a decade prior in 2013.”

Ms Moyle said organisations like CARE Australia understand just how much Australian aid means to those living in poverty.

“In the last six months alone, for example, CARE Australia helped almost 6,000 children in Papua New Guinea get an education with funding from the Australian aid program and generous members of the public.

“Whilst the continued focus on the Pacific is welcomed, this should not be at the expense of countries in Asia like Laos that still need development support.

“Aid can be the difference between a child going to school or not; between a woman giving birth safely or dying in labour.

“We do all this with a tiny fraction of our federal budget that has been repeatedly slashed for five years. In comparison, the defence budget continues to balloon. The entire international development budget is equivalent to just 2% of defence allocation.

“There is a lot of damage to undo if we are to adequately help the world’s poorest.”

CARE Australia is an international humanitarian aid organisation fighting poverty, with a special focus on working with women and girls to bring lasting change to their communities. www.care.org.au