11 May 2021: The Australian Global Health Alliance – Australia’s peak body for global health organisations – and Pacific Friends of Global Health are alarmed by the Australian Government’s decision to decrease its foreign aid budget during the worst global health and economic crisis in a century.
Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic causing devastating impact across the globe, the Government tonight unveiled a 2021-22 Official Development Assistance budget that indicates a year-on-year reduction in spend of $144 million.
With the exception of a much-needed $37.1 million COVID-19 support package over two years for India, there were no new investments announced to support the global efforts to end the pandemic.
Professor Jane den Hollander AO, Chair of the Australian Global Health Alliance said:
“In October 2020, Australia pledged with the G20 to ‘spare no effort’ to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and diagnostics. This is not that. As one of the wealthiest countries in the world, it is appalling that Australia is failing to contribute its fair share.
“From a government who delivered six consecutive years of declining aid budgets and was reluctant to acknowledge their modest increase last year, this is not surprising, but it is disappointing.
“This is not us. As Australians, we do whatever we can to support our neighbours. You don’t have to look far beyond our borders to understand just how lucky we are to have fared so well throughout this pandemic.
“We are thus in a position to contribute much more to the global community, and a crisis of this scale requires an exceptional response. We urge the government to make further contributions immediately to support the international COVID-19 response and recovery.”
Professor Brendan Crabb AC, Chair of Pacific Friends of Global Health said:
“This is not the budget announcement that we were hoping for.
“Last year, we were proud of the way Australia stepped up to help our neighbours, with its initial contributions to COVAX, and the COVID-19 support and vaccine packages for the region.
“But the pandemic is so far from over. In fact, it is the worst it’s been, so I can’t fathom why the Government would fail to build upon its initial response when the need is greater than ever.
“When our neighbours are vulnerable, so are we. A strong, financial investment from Australia is strategic as much as it is simply the right thing to do. It is vital to protect the health, stability and security of the Indo-Pacific and necessary to speed up an end to the pandemic. This isn’t over for anyone until it’s over for everyone.”
The 2021-22 ODA budget places Australia’s aid contributions as a percentage of Gross National Income (GNI) at 0.21%, well below the international benchmark of 0.7%.
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ABOUT PACIFIC FRIENDS OF GLOBAL HEALTH
Pacific Friends of Global Health (“Pacific Friends”) serves three of the world’s most significant global health organisations; the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (“the Global Fund”), Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance (“Gavi”) and UNITAID. We promote a greater understanding of the three organisations and aim to mobilise political and financial support in the Pacific region. Our mission is to increase the profile of the three organisations, increase understanding of their distinct and complementary roles in the global health response, showcase synergies between the organisations, raise awareness of the global health issues in the context of the Pacific region and engage with key leaders and decision makers in the government, the media, private sector, academia, civil society organisations, including communities and foundations, in Australia and in due course, in New Zealand.
ABOUT GLOBAL HEALTH ALLIANCE AUSTRALIA
Formed in 2016, Global Health Alliance Australia cultivates a comprehensive perspective of the regional global health ecosystem and identifies non-traditional partnerships that individual organisations and institutions often can’t do. These strategic connections impact over the long term to:
- provide a platform for the identification of new partnerships, joint ventures and professional relationships
- enhance the capability and capacity of Australian-based global health and development organisations through creative convergence and collaboration
- establish communities of practice across silos in global health
- profile Australia as the global health and sustainable development hub in our region
- build the capacity of the sector and drive sectoral reform and disruption
- support the Alliance as a credible and respected voice
Our approach to building more effective organisations and the capacity of the sector is aligned to a longer term vision for more equitable and improved global health outcomes – mirroring the goals of similar organisations such as the Washington Global Health Alliance while at the same time forging our own alliances to combat other areas in global health.