Australia has a proud history of supporting people affected by crises. It has been a champion for the rights of women and girls, led the charge on disability inclusion, and been a steadfast supporter of disaster-affected countries around the world. But as the global humanitarian landscape shifts, Australia must realign its strategy to ensure it continues to reach the people in greatest need. Humanitarian crises are today driven overwhelmingly by conflict and violence, and the persistent gap between needs and funding demands all governments increase their support to better respond to the most pressing global challenges.
Australia is well positioned to aim higher in taking a principled, whole-of-government approach to humanitarian action, in line with our role as a wealthy, middle-power actor. As Australia’s humanitarian budget continues to grow, it must be directed to proven and effective partners and a concerted effort made to turn policy rhetoric into tangible action for crisis-affected populations. Finally, Australia must try harder to address the driving factors behind many crises: investing in risk reduction, preparedness and prevention. In supporting this higher ambition, the Australian Government must improve the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s (DFAT) ability to deliver on a more ambitious humanitarian agenda. Critical to this is the need for greater transparency and accountability on where Australian Government funding is going and continued open, honest dialogue with humanitarian partners on the challenges, changes and opportunities facing the international humanitarian sector.
This paper has been developed by the Australian Council for International Development’s (ACFID) Humanitarian Reference Group (HRG). The HRG is the independent voice of ACFID-member humanitarian agencies in Australia and the principle mechanism for sector-wide humanitarian policy and advocacy. HRG members are supported by a wide cross-section of the Australian community to deliver humanitarian action around the world and are delivery partners in the Australian Government’s humanitarian program. We hope this publication will form the basis for ongoing dialogue between the Australian Government and ACFID and its members on the issues it addresses.
Australia has a strong foundation of principled humanitarian action on which to build. However as global need continues to rise, we urge the Australian Government to scale up its ambition, resourcing and commitment to save lives, alleviate suffering and maintain human dignity amid crises.