Sectors & partners

What does Australian aid support? And who do we work with to deliver our aid?

In this section, we provide an overview of the types of initiatives that Australian aid supports, and the partners used to deliver Australian aid. We also look at how much we spend on humanitarian assistance.

Sectors

Australian government aid is provided to help with a range of different issues (usually referred to as ‘sectors’ in the language of aid).

Over time different Australian governments have focused more or less on different sectors, reflecting their own priorities or global events. The chart below shows how Australian government aid has been allocated by sector for each year since 2013, based on DFAT’s own reporting.

Over the past decade the main areas that Australian aid has been directed towards include: education, health, humanitarian assistance, economic development investments such as those in infrastructure and agriculture, and developing governance and civil society in recipient countries.

Focusing on humanitarian aid

Humanitarian aid is the aid that the Australian government gives to developing countries in response to disasters. (Read more about the difference between development aid and humanitarian aid on the Aid 101 page). The amount of humanitarian aid the Australian government gives varies from year to year, responding to need, but at the same time the year-on-year change is less than you might expect. This is because in most years there are no shortage of disasters or ongoing crises, and the government aid program has a pre-planned humanitarian aid budget every year (it may vary from the budget if needed).

How Australia’s humanitarian contributions compare

According to the 2020 Global Humanitarian Assistance Report, Australia was the 22nd largest contributor to the global humanitarian effort among donors in 2019, having steadily dropped from 14th position in 2014. When measuring humanitarian assistance as a percentage of gross national income, Australia no longer makes it into the top 20 donors. The charts below draw on the data in this report to show how Australia’s efforts on humanitarian aid compare with other donors, as well as from the OECD DAC and the Financial Tracking Service for humanitarian aid flows.

Partners

Australian government aid is given in different ways. The chart below shows the channels through which government aid has been delivered since 2013-14.

Multilateral organisations include UN organisations like the UNDP and World Bank, and organisations such as the Asian Development Bank (learn more on the Aid 101 page). Commercial suppliers are often consulting companies that provide aid services on behalf of the government. Much of the aid under the heading ‘universities’ comes in the form of scholarships given to students from developing countries. Aid given via other government departments includes funds for discreet programs run by organisations such as the Australian Federal Police or the Australian Electoral Commission.

Summary

  • Over the past decade the main sectors that Australian aid has been directed towards include: education, health, humanitarian assistance, economic development and developing governance and civil society in recipient countries.
  • Our humanitarian contribution has hovered between 5 and 10 per cent of our total aid.
  • Multilateral organisations and development contractors are responsible for delivering around half of Australia’s aid, but this percentage has been increasing.
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