Tonight we are shocked at the announcement that the disability inclusion budget within Australia’s #foreignaid budget will be slashed by 25% – a staggering $3.3 million.
This drastic cut undermines DFAT’s long standing commitment to and leadership in disability inclusive development.
Australia’s foreign aid program has long recognised that people with disabilities are part of every community yet face higher risks of inequality and poverty than others – meaning that, in order to be most effective in reaching the most vulnerable, all foreign aid must be underpinned by strong capacity and resourcing for disability inclusion.
This is more true than ever during the COVID pandemic. DFAT’s Partnerships for Recovery COVID Response Strategy specifically committed to a priority focus on the most vulnerable, including people with disabilities. This funding cut significantly undermines that commitment.
The Government must at least maintain previous levels of DFAT’s disability budget if it is to deliver upon its commitments to disability inclusion and leaving no one behind.
We are otherwise encouraged that Australia’s overall foreign aid budget will hold steady as had been indicated in the forward estimates.
We also recognise that the extra $304.7m allocated to support COVID response in the Pacific and Timor Leste will go towards addressing a very real need in our region and neighbours.
There is still much work to do. COVID and inequality will not be over for one until it is over for all. This is why all of Australia’s international aid and COVID response work must be underpinned by strong capacity and resourcing for disability inclusion – so that our aid program can be most effective in reaching the most vulnerable.