On 31 October, the Government announced that it would increase Australia’s official development assistance [international aid] program by $500 million over the next three years to help Pacific and south-east Asian countries immunise their entire populations against COVID-19.
INF Australia welcomes this increase as an important contribution to saving lives and supporting a sustainable global recovery from the pandemic. INF Australia CEO, Ben Thurley, said, “Australia’s support for a mass roll-out of COVID-19 vaccinations across the Pacific will help to save many lives and build a sustainable recovery for our nearest neighbours. It’s a welcome and necessary contribution to global efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Mr Thurley also noted that this represents the first planned increase in Australia’s aid program since 2013 when the Coalition first came to office. “Until this year, Australia’s aid has been cut in real terms every single year under Prime Ministers Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison. So it is fantastic to see this disappointing trend reversed. Australia is a wealthy nation and we should do all we can to reduce poverty and improve the health and lives of people in poorer countries.”
INF Australia worked with Nepalese-Australian community organisations, as well as other international aid NGOs, to lobby the Government to maintain Australia’s bilateral aid to Nepal. Many INF Australia supporters also spoke up and signed a petition to the Foreign Minister.
Please join us in writing a letter or email to the Foreign Minister and to your own MP, thanking them for supporting aid to Nepal and urging them to make this increase in Australia’s international development cooperation permanent.