Australia’s cuts to foreign aid will impact some of our most vulnerable neighbours after Treasurer Joe Hockey confirmed a further $1 billion cut in last night’s federal budget.
The peak body for eye health and vision care said the Government’s continued cuts would impact Australia’s capacity to effectively alleviate poverty, and hamstring the progress of NGOs.
“It’s a dark day in Australia’s foreign aid history with Australian aid now at one of its lowest points in 50 years, Vision 2020 Australia CEO," Jennifer Gersbeck said.
Yesterday’s cuts confirmed Vision 2020 Australia’s worst fears that Australia’s aid budget will be slashed by 20 per cent ($1b) next financial year, with cuts totalling $3.7b over the next three years.
“These cuts will deliver a severe blow to effective aid programs, impacting the lives of millions of vulnerable people in poor communities who rely on Australia’s generosity,” she said.
Cuts across the board were mixed with many countries where Australian NGO eye health and vision care programs are being implemented already feeling the pinch.
Africa will be hit hardest by the cuts with up to 70 per cent of programs chopped. While funding for Pacific countries like Fiji and Papua New Guinea will be shielded from any of the cuts to the budget. Vietnam and other parts of Asia will also suffer with programs hit with a 40 per cent reduction.
Ms Gersbeck said among the doom and gloom there was some hope for NGOs with only a 5 per cent cut to Australian NGO Cooperative Program (ANCP) funding.
“With the NGO sector fearing cuts could be as high as 40 per cent, the Government has acknowledged the effective work of NGOs,” she said.
With further details still to be revealed on how these cuts will be implemented, NGOs working to alleviate poverty through eye health and vision care programs are hopeful that preventing avoidable blindness and disability inclusion remains a priority.
Louise Rudzki, Vision 2020 Australia, (03) 9656 2020, +61 414 784 359, firstname.lastname@example.org