Destinations

Which countries receive our aid, and how are our aid flows changing?

In this section, we examine which countries and regions receive Australian aid, and look at how these country and regional allocations have changed over time.

How our aid is shared around the world

The chart below shows how Australia’s bilateral aid is divided by region–Papua New Guinea & the Pacific and East Asia have traditionally been the largest recipients of Australian aid. Data up to 2020-21 is collected from DFAT’s statistical summaries and data for 2021-22 is from DFAT’s latest budget.

Australia provides much less aid to countries outside of the Asia-Pacific, though some Australian aid is provided to countries in Africa, South Asia, the Middle East and Latin America. During the scale-up period of Australian aid, these regions benefitted from increased attention and funding. However, they faced the largest percentage cuts in the scale-back from 2014 onward. In 2020-21, there was a temporary increase due to COVID-19 related measures and also a reallocation of administration costs from global programs to geographic regions.

Because the aid allocated to countries in these regions is such a small amount compared to our contributions in the Asia-Pacific, it is (with a few exceptions) only divided into sub-regions rather than countries. The chart below shows how these regional allocations have fluctuated.

Bilateral aid is foreign aid that is given country to country--Australian aid is also provided to multilateral organisations, which work across many countries. Learn more about these differences on our Aid 101 page.

Australian aid allocation by country

On the map below, you can see which countries in these regions have received Australian aid since 2001-02, and how our levels of support have changed over time. Key events like the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami and other natural disasters, civil unrest, such as that which occurred in Timor-Leste in 2006, and political deals (such as the agreements with Papua New Guinea, Nauru and Cambodia in 2013 and 2014 to accept asylum seekers who had attempted to arrive in Australia by boat), can influence our aid flows. Aid to some countries has declined or stopped as they have reached, or are working towards, ‘graduation’ from Australian aid–see more details in the section below.

Detailed information about country allocations is available to 2020-21. Budgeted country allocations for 2021-22 and 2022-23 are shown below.

Our biggest recipients: PNG & Indonesia

Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Indonesia are the two largest recipients of Australian aid. This is unsurprising given their size and proximity to Australia. Yet aid to these two countries tells two different tales.

Aid to Indonesia was significantly scaled-up following the Indian Ocean Tsunami in December 2004, and continued to increase throughout the aid scale-up period. Aid to Indonesia overtook aid to PNG for the first time in 2007-08. Aid to Indonesia was then cut substantially in 2015-16, by some 40 per cent, leaving PNG as our biggest recipient once again.

Australia has always provided a high level of aid to Papua New Guinea since its independence in 1975, but adjusting for inflation, we are giving PNG less than one half of the aid we gave it at independence. During the 2015-16 aid cut, aid to PNG was not affected.

The chart below shows how aid to Indonesia and PNG has changed over time, adjusted for inflation using 2022-23 prices.

Data on the destinations page comes from DFAT budget reporting which can be found on this webpage.

Summary

  • Australia's aid program is concentrated in the countries of the Asia-Pacific. Papua New Guinea and Indonesia are the two largest recipients.
  • If countries become wealthier and more developed, they may 'graduate' from receiving Australian aid.
  • Australian aid is particularly important in Pacific Island countries, where it constitutes a large part of GNI and total aid.
  • Aid to countries outside of the Asia-Pacific, which had benefitted from the scale-up period, received some of the largest cuts in the period 2014-2016.
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