DP104 Aid and the public in Australia: key findings from Development Policy Centre research

Development Policy Centre Discussion Paper No. 104

By Terence Wood

October 2022

For close to a decade, Development Policy Centre researchers have studied Australian public opinion about aid extensively. In this paper I summarise what we have learnt. When we started our work, other than headline figures about public support from intermittent surveys, little was known about how much aid Australians wanted given, and what they wanted it given for. We have now systematically surveyed how many Australians think their country gives too much or too little aid and we have tracked this over time. We have also studied whether Australians want their aid given to advance the national interest or help developing countries. And we have studied whether information can change people’s views on aid. Our key findings are that, although Australians started the 2010s hostile to aid, views have softened significantly in recent years, probably due to COVID-19. Views about the purpose of aid are also changing, becoming more pro-development. Finally, it has often been easy to change Australians’ views about aid by giving them more information. Yet not all information works – telling Australians how little aid their country gives does not change views, for example.

Wood, T. 2022, ‘Aid and the public in Australia: key findings from Development Policy Centre research’, Discussion Paper No. 104, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University, Canberra.

Karen Downing

Karen Downing is Research Communications Coordinator at the Development Policy Centre.