Official Development Assistance (ODA) since 2007–08

Budget Review 2013–14 Index

Dr Ravi Tomar

Australia’s ODA has witnessed a consistent increase over the past few years, increasing from 0.27 per cent of Gross National Income (GNI) in 2007–08 to an estimated 0.35 per cent of GNI in
2011–12. It is expected to remain the same in 2012–13, but increase in subsequent years:

The Government has committed to increase Australia’s ODA/GNI ratio to 0.5 per cent by 2016–17. To reach this target, the Government expects to increase Australian aid to around 0.37 per cent of GNI in 2013–14, 0.41 per cent in 2014–15 and 0.45 in 2015–16.[1]

In 2012–13, Australia’s ODA is expected to be $5,154 million in current prices ($4.9 million in constant 2010–11 prices), a sharp increase from an outlay of $3,173.7 million in 2007–08 ($3,575 million in constant 2010–11 prices). The graph below illustrates this trend.

In 2012–13, Australia’s ODA is expected to be $5,154 million in current prices ($4.9 million in constant 2010–11 prices), a sharp increase from an outlay of $3,173.7 million in 2007–08 ($3,575 million in constant 2010–11 prices). The graph below illustrates this trend. 

Source: Parliamentary Library[2]

On 17 December 2012, the Government announced that it would ‘reprioritise’ $375.1 million in aid this financial year to support asylum seekers waiting to have their claims heard in Australia. This has had no impact on the overall aid budget.

The Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) is an Executive Agency within the Foreign Affairs and Trade portfolio responsible for managing Australia’s overseas aid program. In order to ensure that the increase in ODA is utilised efficiently and effectively, AusAID has undergone a thorough review and substantial organisational change over the past few years, as the table below indicates.

Figure 1: Key developments in Australia’s development co-operation system: 2008–2012

Source: OECD Development Cooperation, Peer Review: Australia 2013, p. 14.

In its latest peer review of Australia’s development cooperation program, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has commented favourably on Australia’s management of change:

Australia has managed its organisational change strategically. The integration of development objectives and corporate systems provides incentives to implement the reform and achieve development objectives. Other donors can learn from AusAID’s experience.[3]

Besides organisational change, AusAID has had a substantial increase in staffing levels, also subject to positive comment by the OECD:

Australia has made impressive progress in managing human resources effectively to respond to field imperatives and new ways of working …

AusAID’s workforce has grown by 66 per cent since 2008 to reach a total of 2124 Australian public service (APS) and locally-recruited staff (referred to as Overseas Based, or O-based, staff). The bulk of new staff were recruited in 2011-12, reflecting a strategic move to frontload staffing in time for the real increase in the aid budget in 2011 and planned increases up to 2016.[4]



[1].       B Carr (Minister for Foreign Affairs),  Budget: Australia’s International Development Assistance Program, p. 13, accessed 8 May 2013.

[2].       Based on data provided in ibid., p. 140.

[3].       OECD Development Cooperation, Peer Review: Australia 2013, p. 68, accessed 8 May 2013.

[4].       ibid., p. 69.

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