Local Help for Foreign Aid

It’s often said that Australians are a generous people (not least, by Australians themselves). Thanks to a new website funded by the Harold Mitchell Foundation, in conjunction with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, we now have an opportunity to measure the accuracy of that statement. And perhaps even become more generous still.

Created by Australian National University’s Development Policy Centre, Australian Aid Tracker plots the changes and trends in Australia’s $4 billion a year aid program.

“There is data out there on Australian aid, but unfortunately you really need to know where to look and how to wade through the jargon and spreadsheets to make sense of it,” says the Centre’s Ashlee Betteridge of the “independent, user-friendly and up-to-date” site, which uses easy-to-follow images and charts. “With the aid tracker, we’ve taken this data and made it accessible for all.”

“We know that many Australians know very little about how much aid we give, and many think that we give more than we actually do. We hope this site will support a more informed public discussion on Australia’s aid policy and the amount of aid that we provide.”

“I think Australians consider themselves to be quite generous people, and a lot travel in the region and are familiar with the challenges but when it comes to the aid budget cuts we’ve seen in recent years by both Liberal and Labor, there doesn’t seem to be much outrage,” Betteridge said.

“It could be that many don’t really understand how much we spend and where it goes. We only tend to see aid in the media when it’s budget time and they’re talking about cuts. If there aren’t any cuts, people don’t seem to see it at all, so this is an opportunity to drill down into those questions like ‘how do we compare to other developed, wealthy nations’ and it lets us see we’ve had a big ramping up of aid, but then it’s dropped down again.”

The Development Policy Centre provides regular commentary on Australian aid through its popular Devpolicy Blog. The effectiveness of Australian aid is one of the centre’s three core areas of research, the other two being Papua New Guinea and the Pacific Islands and global development policy.

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