The Commonwealth is a values-based organisation that promotes democracy, the rule of law, freedom, peace and opportunities for all throughout its 52 member states. For Australia, the Commonwealth provides a means to strengthen democracy and development outcomes in our near region as well as in Commonwealth countries further afield.
Through our assistance to Commonwealth development programs, Australia is supporting economic development, youth and civil society engagement, education, the rule of law and public sector development.
Australia is a committed and active member of the Commonwealth. We are currently the third largest government donor of ODA to the Commonwealth Secretariat after the United Kingdom and Canada. We invest in the Commonwealth's development programs where:
- their work aligns with Australia's development priorities—promoting prosperity, reducing poverty and enhancing stability
- work on low-income small states—especially in the Pacific—supports regional prosperity and stability through achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals
- they promote democracy, good governance and human rights in Commonwealth countries
- they help extend Australia's reach into developing Commonwealth countries beyond our region.
In 2016-17 Australia provided an estimated $7.2 million in total to Commonwealth development programmes, including funding for the Commonwealth Foundation, Commonwealth Youth Program, the Commonwealth of Learning and the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Cooperation.
Some key results include:
- $2.5 million over five years to help fund a new Commonwealth Unit in the Commonwealth Secretariat dedicated to countering violent extremism and radicalisation
- $1 million to support the new Commonwealth Climate Finance Access Hub, based in Mauritius, to help small island developing and least-developed states to effectively access existing climate funds
- $1 million to fund the second phase of the Commonwealth Secretariat's Junior Election Professionals Initiative which will help train election officials across the Commonwealth in more effectively managing election processes. This contribution will further strengthen the Commonwealth's election monitoring.
- an increase in funding to the Commonwealth of Learning to $1 million during 2016-17 to support a range of projects aimed at improving access to education in Commonwealth countries, especially for girls, including through distance and open learning.
The Government also provided around $6 million to support the Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust's efforts over the period 2013-2018 to prevent avoidable blindness and support the next generation of global leaders.