Development Co-operation Directorate (DCD-DAC)

Australia: Can deliver a growing aid budget effectively and efficiently


06/05/2013 - Australia delivered USD 5.44 billion in official development assistance (ODA) last year, or 0.36% of its gross national income. It is the eighth most generous country in the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC), which groups the world’s major donors. Australia’s goal is to reach 0.5% of GNI by 2017 – a goal the DAC encourages it to follow through on, given its good track record and relatively strong economy.


Erik Solheim, Chair of the DAC, noted that “Australia’s aid system is set up to deliver its growing aid programme effectively and efficiently after impressive reform since 2010.”


Solheim also welcomed Australia’s innovative work to reduce exposure to disasters in the Philippines. “We would like to see this good practice expanded to all partner countries, and invite Australia to share its good practices with other donors.”


The DAC review of Australia’s development programme notes the government’s dual objectives: helping people overcome poverty; and Australian national interest in the stability, security and prosperity of its neighbouring region. The Committee found that clear political directives, policies and strategies reflect Australia’s international commitments and good practice. Together, the Government’s Effective Aid Program for Australia and the four-year Comprehensive Aid Policy Framework provide a sound basis for allocating Australia’s bilateral and multilateral development assistance.

The share of Australia’s official development assistance to least developed countries has increased steadily since 2007 – from 30% of bilateral aid in 2007 to 39% in 2011. It spent 40% of its bilateral assistance (USD 1.2 billion) in fragile states in 2011 and allocated 80% of its aid to the Asian Pacific region. The review suggests that Australia continues to focus its aid where it can do the most good, especially through partnerships with developing countries and other development actors. The review noted that AusAID’s partners value its efforts to work through strong partnerships that support developing countries’ priorities.

Australia’s aid policy stresses that the country’s policies on trade, agriculture, investment and remittances should contribute to reducing poverty in developing countries. Australia is looking closely, for example, at how its aid can help raise other forms of private investment to support development through its work in the Group of 20, and through its mining for development initiative. The review notes that Australia is working with a whole-of-government approach in developing countries and can strengthen this by having one clear strategy on how it will support developing countries through various channels, including aid. Telling partner governments how much aid they can expect to receive from Australia over the coming 3-5 years and passing it through partners’ own budget systems would help to maximise the impact of its support.


To ensure that its aid has an impact on development, Australia sets clear goals, and monitors and reports the results of its development co-operation. The review commends Australia’s exemplary steps to increase the transparency of aid. It recommends that Australia communicate about the challenges it faces in helping people overcome poverty, the successes it has had and the lessons it is learning from delivering aid, so that Australian taxpayers and other stakeholders understand the full complexity of how aid contributes to development.

More information about this and other peer reviews can be found at: and OECD work on development or contact Ida Mc Donnell in the OECD Development Co-operation directorate;; telephone + 33 1 45 24 98 95.

The Peer Review of Australia took place over an eight month period, including visits to Canberra and the Philippines, culminating on 16 April 2013 with the DAC peer review meeting in Paris. Canada and the European Union acted as peer examiners, with supporting analysis provided by the OECD Secretariat.

To receive a copy of the OECD Development Co-operation Peer Review: Australia 2013, journalists can email


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