The Australian Overseas Aid Program aims to advance the national interest by assisting developing countries to reduce poverty and achieve sustainable development. Australian aid provides practical, well-targeted development assistance to the Asia-Pacific region and responds selectively to needs in South Asia, Africa and the Middle East. The aid program also responds to international emergency and humanitarian crises. Recent world events, and a tight fiscal environment within Australia, reinforce these priorities and demand a flexible aid program that can respond quickly and effectively to emerging challenges confronting Australia's developing country partners.
Within the Asia-Pacific region, many countries are facing significant challenges to their stability and security. Conflict and instability impact directly on countries' development prospects. The aid program can, and does, provide a 'peace dividend' to encourage the cessation of hostilities and the start of constructive development. The aid program is an integral part of Australia's engagement with the Asia-Pacific region and a practical demonstration of a commitment to helping build regional stability and prosperity.
In 2003-04, the Australian Government is providing an estimated $1.894b as Official Development Assistance (ODA), an increase of $79m over the 2002-03 figure of $1.815b. Details of ODA to partner countries in 2003-04 are set out in table 3.3. The ratio of Australia's ODA to gross national income for 2003-04 is estimated at 0.25%, placing Australia above the donor average which, in the latest year available (2002), is 0.23%.
Further information and publications on the Australian Government's aid program can be obtained from the web site of the Australian Agency for International Development, <http://www.ausaid.gov.au>.
The Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID)
AusAID manages Australia's overseas aid program on behalf of the Australian Government. Actual delivery of the aid program is outsourced. In 2003-04, AusAID will be well advanced in moving more towards in-country activity management to enhance decision-making at the local level and promote more dialogue with partner governments.