Overview of Australia's aid program to Nauru

How we are helping

2017-18 Total Australian ODA Estimated Outcome
$26.1 million

2018-19 Bilateral Budget Estimate
$21.2 million

2018-19 Total Australian ODA Estimate
$25.9 million

Australia is Nauru's most significant donor, providing development assistance equivalent to 25 per cent of Nauru's gross domestic product in 2016–17. Australia's aid in Nauru forms part of our broader economic and diplomacy efforts to promote prosperity and security in the Pacific region.

The Australian Government will provide an estimated $25.9 million in total ODA to Nauru in 2018-19. This will include an estimated $21.2 million in bilateral funding to Nauru managed by DFAT.

Recent significant growth in economic activity and public revenue has resulted in Nauru now enjoying almost full employment, with many households earning higher incomes than they have been for many years. However, poor health and education outcomes persist. Despite significant progress in reducing Nauru's debt burden in recent years, the economy is easily affected by external influences. Energy and clean water production are reliant on the costly importation of diesel fuel. Public sector management is hampered by a lack of skilled and qualified personnel, and critical national infrastructure is dilapidated.

Australia's Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP), led by the Department of Jobs and Small Business, connects workers from Nauru and other Pacific islands with Australian employers experiencing labour shortages, typically in rural and remote areas. In 2015-16, Nauru sent a cohort of 17 workers to Queensland and Victoria.

On 8 September 2017, the Australian Prime Minister, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, announced the establishment of a new Pacific Labour Scheme to enable citizens of Pacific island countries to take up low and semi-skilled work opportunities in rural and regional Australia for up to three years, which increasingly allows for workers to build their skills and send remittances home to support their families. The Prime Minister also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Nauru's President Baron Waqa to facilitate Nauru's entry into the scheme.

Australia's commitment to development cooperation with Nauru is ongoing with a shared objective of supporting stable and fiscally responsible government; promoting human development; and essential infrastructure services.

Australia's aid program is organised around the following three strategic objectives as outlined in the Aid Investment Plan 2015-16 to 2018-19.

Objective 1:  Promoting more effective public sector management

Supporting Nauru to strengthen financial management capacity and economic governance is essential to maximise the benefits of current government revenues. Australia is funding the recruitment and salaries of four deputy secretaries within the Departments of Finance, Customs and Revenue. These positions are responsible for policies and processes associated with revenue collection, including customs revenue, debt management, fiscal management and development policy and coordination. Australia also funds the additional positions of a tax implementation advisor and customs operations advisor to implement reform measures.

Promoting more effective public sector management

Objective 2:    Investing in nation building infrastructure

Construction and maintenance of infrastructure to support human development and foster commerce and trade is consistent with Australia's strategic interests. Investing in infrastructure promotes economic growth and facilitates trade. Australia will continue to work with the Government of Nauru to identify key priorities for infrastructure development. Australia is currently supporting the multi-purpose community sports centre and port redevelopment projects.

Investing in nation building infrastructure

Objective 3:  Supporting human development

Australia is assisting Nauru to deliver better health and education services by improving the quality of education and primary health care.  A healthy and educated population is critical to Nauru's future.  Supporting Nauru to address obesity, diabetes and cardio-vascular disease, and strengthen its education results are priorities.  Maintaining a strong focus on improved domestic education outcomes, technical and vocational skills development, and tertiary scholarships will expand employment opportunities for the Nauruan population both domestically through government, private and state-owned enterprises and throughout the Pacific region.

Supporting human development

Our results

In 2016–17, Australia's aid program contributed to:

  • the introduction of a new business profits tax, strengthened customs revenue collection, improved budget preparation and the reconciliation of expenditure across government ministries
  • the delivery of two new 2.8MW diesel generators and switchgear, and improved utilities management which resulted in significant reductions in the frequency (54 per cent) and duration (50 per cent) of power outages over the twelve month period
  • the completion of Phase 2 of the Nauru hospital redevelopment in early 2017, which has delivered new pediatrics and pathology facilities, along with back-up power and sewerage treatment
  • the graduation of a further seven students from the University of New England with Associate Degrees in Teaching (Pacific Focus), and an initial four students with Diplomas in Community Welfare and Wellbeing (Pacific Focus).

Our changing program

Our aid program in Nauru is focused on the needs of the broader Nauruan community and the development priorities of the Government of Nauru – improving public sector management, investing in nation building infrastructure and supporting human development.

We will work towards consolidating investments, targeting resources and increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of critical sectors such as health and education. We will strengthen synergies between Australian bilateral and regional investments, and between investments supported by DFAT and other Australian government agencies. Stronger integration of climate change, gender equality and disability inclusiveness considerations will be an essential aspect of Australia's development cooperation with Nauru going forward. We will maintain a focus on major infrastructure developments such as education, community and port facilities. As part of its broader cooperation with the Pacific, Australia is also working towards expanding participation in labour mobility opportunities, expanding people-to-people links and facilitating deeper trade integration.


Last Updated: 8 May 2018