Australian aid: Engaging the community

All over Australia, organisations big and small, are doing great work to help people in their community and overseas. Rotary and Lions clubs, faith-based groups, peak bodies of doctors, nurses, farmers, as well as local government councils, diaspora groups, and many other community organisations have been helping people in developing countries for years, and building strong connections in the countries where they work.

DFAT wants to hear, and learn, more about the work that organisations like these are doing with communities overseas. We are also interested in hearing ideas about how the Australian government could engage more Australians across regional, rural and urban communities in the aid program.

As part of this work to hear from community organisations across Australia, DFAT is undertaking a short 'Listening Tour' around all capital cities over November 2017. We recognise that we are not able to engage with everyone face to face, as community organisations are often volunteer run and can be based outside capital cities. But we still would like to hear from you.

We invite you to share your thoughts and experiences in an online survey. We will use the information you provide to create a profile of the different Australian community groups who undertake development assistance projects overseas, to help inform DFAT's future engagement with this part of the Australia community sector. The survey will close on 5 January 2018.


The Australian Government has worked with non-government organisations (NGOs) and other community organisations for more than 40 years to support the world's poorest and most vulnerable people through the Australian aid program. DFAT partners with many professional international development NGOs through bilateral country programs such as in Bangladesh with BRAC, and through thematic or regional programs such as the Civil Society Water Sanitation and Hygiene Fund and the Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development program. DFAT also runs the Direct Aid Program, a small grants program, which is administered by Australian embassies and high commissions. DFAT also manages Australia Awards Fellowships, an initiative bringing together international scholarships, Fellowships and short courses.

Two of DFAT's longest running international development programs engage with both ends of the spectrum of Australian civil society. Through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP), DFAT partners with accredited Australian professional development NGOs to implement their own development and poverty alleviation programs overseas. At the other end of the spectrum lies the Australian Volunteers Program, which provides opportunities for individual Australians to use their skills in developing countries and contribute to the Australian aid program.

In between the large international development NGOs and the individual volunteers, are a range of community groups, many that are run solely by dedicated volunteers, which have no engagement with DFAT. This 'Listening Tour' is part of DFAT's efforts to learn more about their work and identify possibilities for collaboration.

Useful links

Link to online survey – engaging the community

Please note, this survey will close on 5 January 2018.

Australian Council for International Development (ACFID)

ACFID is the peak body for Australian international development NGOs. DFAT has a long-running partnership with ACFID, which is a key mechanism for pursuing DFAT's objective of working with NGOs to achieve the goals of the Australian aid program. In addition to representing the collective views of their NGO members to Government, ACFID provides learning and development programs for international development NGOs.

The ACFID Code of Conduct is a voluntary, self-regulatory code that sets good standards for program effectiveness, fundraising, governance and financial reporting, and aims to improve development outcomes.

Australian Charites and Not-for-Profit Commission (ACNC)

The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) is the independent national regulator of charities. The ACNC helps to maintain, protect and enhance public trust and confidence in the sector through increased accountability and transparency, and support and sustain a robust, vibrant, independent and innovative not-for-profit sector. As part of the ACNC's work to support the sector, it provides guidance materials, factsheets and templates for charitable or not-for-profit organisations starting out.

Official Development Assistance

Official Development Assistance (ODA) funding is administered by Governments to promote the economic development and welfare of developing countries. For more information on what projects qualify as ODA eligible, check out the Is It ODA? Factsheet on the OECD website.

See where the Australian aid program delivers aid throughout the Pacific, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbean.  You may also be interested in the List of Developing Countries as declared by the Minister for Foreign Affairs for for the purposes of the Overseas Aid Gift Deduction Scheme.

Last Updated: 16 November 2017
Rose (mother) and toddler in the treatment room at Susa Mama health clinic, Port Moresby General Hospital, PNG. Credit: Ness Kerton / DFAT.
Women cut rice during Rice Farming Training at Tropang Krohom Bay, Ratanakiri. Credit: CARE Australia / Laura Hill.
A teacher helps students with an activity during class at the Maamatoa Kindergarten in Vaololoa a suburb of the capital Nuku’alofa. Credit: Connor Ashleigh / DFAT.