ActionAid welcomes the opportunity to provide this submission to Treasury on the 2022-2023 Federal Budget. Australia has played an important leadership role over the last two years in supporting COVID-19 response efforts across our region. Temporary aid increases have provided crucial resources for health and economic response and recovery initiatives. New funding for Pacific Women Lead was also vital in ensuring Australia continues to contribute to progressing gender equality across the Pacific region.
However, two years into the pandemic, the new Omicron variant is devastating communities around the world and extreme poverty is rising for the first time in 20 years (1). Women and girls continue to bear the brunt of the pandemic, compounding an alarming deterioration in gender equality that is threatening hard won women’s rights gains. The situation facing developing countries is heightened by the rapidly escalating climate crisis, which is threatening lives and livelihoods, particularly across the Pacific region, highlighting an urgent need for a new ambition on financing for emission reduction and the adaptation efforts of developing countries.
In this context, the need for wealthy countries like Australia to step up their development assistance remains urgent. The 2022-23 budget provides a crucial opportunity for Australia to rise to this challenge, including by providing critical finance to support global vaccine equity. By standing with developing countries across our region and globally, Australia can play a crucial role in ensuring that we all build back better from COVID-19 and work together to create a more equal and resilient global community. ActionAid calls on the Government to:
- Expand Australia’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) in line with growing need and to meet our international obligations.
- Provide leadership on gender equality regionally and internationally through targeted policies and scaled-up investment in women-led development and humanitarian responses, and resourcing of the Women, Peace and Security agenda.
- Increase Australia’s climate finance commitment to enable developing countries to respond to the escalating impacts of the climate crisis.
- Expand support for fragile and conflict affected States.
- Improve transparency by developing gender responsive budgets across all portfolios.