Sadly, Australia’s overseas aid program is being driven by principles of economic development, increased trade and enhanced security for the Australian population and the Indo-Pacific, but is failing to address systemic drivers of poverty in developing nations.
The 2018-19 Federal Budget has disappointed the global eye health and vision care sector this week with total aid spending set at $4.17 billion in 2018/19, before being cut by $141 million over the next three years.
This will put Australia’s aid expenditure at 0.22% of our Gross National Income (GNI) in 2018/19, falling to 0.19% in 2021/22. Both are new lows in Australia’s aid expenditure and fall a long way short of our development partner countries and OECD peers that contribute 0.7% of GNI to aid spending.
The Australian Council for International Development has condemned the Budget as “morally wrong and strategically short-sighted” in its in-depth analysis.
The Budget has also neglected to prioritise investments in line with the objectives of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). There is limited information about how the Government will integrate the SDGs into new initiatives as part of its commitment to “leave no one behind”.
Vision 2020 Australia and its members will continue to advocate for increased Government investment in Australia’s aid program to ensure needs are met for the 223 million people who are blind or vision impaired, living in low and middle-income countries.