ChildFund Australia has expressed its deep concern about reports that the Australian government is considering cuts to the overseas aid budget for the third time since winning government.
Nigel Spence, CEO of ChildFund Australia, said: “A fresh round of cuts to a budget that has already been slashed by $625m this year is terribly unfair. It will also have a tragic human cost, by reducing life-saving aid programs for children and families at risk.”
While Australia’s aid program accounts for less than 1.5% of total government spending, it has already been used to deliver 20% of budget savings for the Coalition government this year. This followed a drastic $8bn reduction made in 2013.
The reported cuts are in contradiction to statements by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop that Australia’s aid program is the ‘flagship’ of the government’s foreign policy; a program dedicated to promoting prosperity, reducing poverty, lifting standards of living and enhancing stability in our region.
According to the annual aid review by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, in 2013 alone the Australian Aid program responded to emergencies in 24 countries, constructed 9,000 new classrooms and vaccinated over 2.3m children, giving them protection from preventable diseases.
“This time last year, the Australian government was in the midst of delivering life-saving support to the many thousands of children and families whose lives were devastated by Typhoon Haiyan.
“Almost immediately, Australia was able to provide emergency supplies to affected areas in the Philippines. Specialist medical teams were deployed to treat the injured. Defence force personnel arrived to remove debris and begin the reconstruction efforts. NGOs such as ChildFund were able to quickly establish child protection services and temporary schools,” said Mr Spence.
“Coupled with the enormous outpouring of financial support from the Australian public, Australia’s aid program was directly responsible for saving lives in the Philippines. It is something we should be enormously proud of. However, effective humanitarian relief and poverty reduction programs will be undermined if funds are cut or diverted elsewhere.”
Do you want to help defend Australia’s Aid program? Then add your voice to the #dontcutaid campaign.