Increased aid funding welcome, but Australia failing to rise to global challenges

Global women’s rights organisation ActionAid has welcomed the Government’s increase in the aid budget over the next four years but noted current commitments to address extreme poverty and gender inequality fall short of what should be expected of a nation like Australia.


Australia’s aid funding remains at 0.2 per cent of Gross National Income (GNI) and will stagnate over the coming years – significantly below the Government’s commitment of 0.5 per cent.

“We are at a tipping point for women’s rights. Poverty and gender inequality are rising at an alarming rate as women continue to battle compounding global crises,” said ActionAid Australia’s executive director, Michelle Higelin.

“The Government’s additional development assistance is a step in the right direction, but we need more targeted gender equality funding to stem further deterioration of women’s rights and re-establish Australia as a global leader on gender equality and development.”

ActionAid welcomed the reintroduction of the ‘80 per cent performance target’, which requires that at least 80 per cent of all development investments effectively address gender equality and the new requirement that all investments of more than $3 million must have a significant focus on gender equality alongside their primary objective.

“It has been positive to hear Foreign Minister Wong promote addressing gender equality in Australia’s development assistance. However, we expected this to be matched with new, targeted gender equality funding commitments,” Ms Higelin said.

As the climate crisis continues to disproportionately impact women and girls from the world’s poorest communities, ActionAid noted that no new funding commitments were made on climate finance. As Australia heads into COP27 next month, new announcements remain at one-tenth of Australia’s international fair share of $4 billion annually and continue to be drawn from an already stretched aid budget.

“The climate crisis is growing in ferocity fuelling one of the worst droughts in living memory in the Horn of Africa, catastrophic floods in Pakistan, and more severe cyclones across the Pacific. Women and girls, especially those living with a disability, will continue to bear a disproportionate amount of the burden of this crisis unless wealthy nations like Australia step up support,” Ms Higelin said.

“Australia can and should do more to support women on the frontlines of this crisis, who are leading climate responses in their community alongside efforts to address growing gender inequality and other intersecting crises.”

The new funding for the Australia Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific raises concerns that new climate funding could be delivered as loans, increasing the debt risk across the Pacific.

“ActionAid urges the government to ensure any new funding for the AIFFP is coupled with greater transparency and accountability measures to ensure its development and climate effectiveness,” Ms Higelin said.

ActionAid is looking forward to working with the Government to strengthen its gender equality and climate commitments through the upcoming COP27 and the new development policy as well as in the lead up to the 2023-24 federal budget.


Contact Tim Brunero 0405 285 547 / [email protected]

ActionAid is a global women’s rights organisation supporting women living in poverty and exclusion around the world with a focus on economic justice, climate justice and women’s rights in emergencies.