Australians mistakenly believe government gives 13% of federal budget to help world's poor

Australians mistakenly believe government gives 13% of federal budget to help world’s poorest: new data 

A new nationwide survey of over 1500 people reveals Australians mistakenly believe our federal government gives 13 per cent of the budget to overseas aid projects, a percentage approximately 14 times higher than reality.

“Most Australians don’t realise we provide less than one per cent of Australia’s annual budget to aid. This is not surprising as governments and politicians have often failed to adequately promote the benefits of aid and of building a fairer world," said Campaign Director for Campaign for Australian Aid, Tony Milne.

In the upcoming 3 May federal budget, the Australian Government is slated to cut a further $224 million from aid.

“If the Australian Government’s Treasurer Scott Morrison doesn’t reverse the scheduled cuts, Australia will become the least generous we’ve ever been in terms of providing aid,” added Mr Milne.

Cuts to the aid program have seen a range of life-saving projects in poverty stricken locations cancelled and closed with catastrophic consequences for the world’s poorest communities. 

Over the past three years, NGO Plan International Australia has been forced to discontinue or outright cancel nine projects operating in Bangladesh, Zambia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Fiji, Tonga, Kiribati, Vanuatu, Cambodia, Uganda, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Vietnam and Indonesia.  

Projects were previously funded by the Australian Government and involved combatting child marriage, building kindergartens, and providing children with climate change coping mechanisms. Budgets for these programs were cut with little or no warning, with some budgets cut mid-project.

“Since 2012, I’ve managed an education project in Ethiopia, a country where just five per cent of children go to preschool. We built 27 kindergartens, and established mobile donkey libraries from a budget of AUD$1.2 million. This project reached 5000 children and adults in very poor regions where there were no kindergartens,” said Katherine Fell, Plan’s education expert.

“Aid cuts led to this project being cancelled. Kindergartens have been closed and donkey libraries stopped. All we need is $600,000 to run all 27 kindergartens for three years - long enough to sustainably hand over responsibility, running and up-keep of kindergartens to local communities,” said Ms Fell.

The survey was commissioned by Campaign for Australian Aid.

Photographs of the cut kindergartens project in Ethiopia are available to the media at no cost. Photographs can be found here and must be credited to Plan International.

Notes for the editor:
The Campaign for Australian Aid is a joint initiative of the Make Poverty History and Micah Australia coalitions, for all Australians who believe we can and should do more as a nation to end extreme poverty around the world. It represents over 65 aid and development organisations, church, business and community groups. To arrange an interview with Mr Milne please contact Sarah Cannata on 0407 536 133 sarah.cannata@australianaid.org

Plan is one of the oldest and largest children's development organisations in the world, founded 79 years ago, working in 50 developing countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas and supported by 21 donor countries. To arrange an interview with Katherine Fell please contact Clare Price 0490 252 743 clare.price@plan.org.au