Sydney, Australia, 15 December 2014: ChildFund Australia has condemned the Federal Government’s decision to axe the Australian aid budget for the third time since coming to power.
Treasurer Joe Hockey today announced that a further $3.7 billion will be cut from the aid budget over the next four years, taking the total funding cut to the sector to more than $11 billion since the Coalition took office 15 months ago.
This is despite earlier statements from Foreign Minister Julie Bishop that the aid budget would be capped at $5 billion for the next two years, then increase year on year, according to the Consumer Price Index.
The first cut of $1 billion – 20 per cent of the total aid budget – will be made in 2015-16, representing the largest single-year cut in history. By 2017, Australian aid will be at its least generous level ever: just 0.22 per cent of Gross National Income.
Nigel Spence, CEO of ChildFund Australia, said: “At a time when regional security and prosperity are key foreign policy priorities for the Australian Government, it seems a very odd decision to cut funding for vital programs that are giving a hand up to some of the most vulnerable children and families in our region.
“The size and scale of these cuts is particularly damaging and affects programs already under way. For organisations like ChildFund, this is an incredibly frustrating and ineffective way to be working.”
Since the Abbott Government came to power, it has cut the aid budget three times and used money earmarked for aid to fund its Green Climate Fund contribution.
The impact of the latest cuts will be felt deeply by aid agencies working to help children and families in our region.
In January this year, ChildFund Australia was forced to scale back and delay programs in Laos, Papua New Guinea and Vietnam to cope with a $726,000 shortfall in federal funding. In total, 17 projects were directly affected by the cuts including an early childhood education project in rural Laos and several child protection projects.
Cuts to funding also saw the axe fall on ChildFund Connect, an acclaimed global education program that benefitted more than 9,000 children and youth across the Asia-Pacific region in the past financial year alone, and supported the Australian Curriculum’s focus on intercultural understanding.
Mr Spence said: “These cuts will dramatically set back our contribution to crucial progress in our region and beyond. This is an extremely poor choice for budget savings ÛÒ a false economy that will do more harm than good.”
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