Overview of Australia's Pacific Regional aid program

How we are helping

2014/15 Regional Budget Estimate
$184.9 million

2015/16 Regional Budget Estimate
$166.4 million

Expenditure in this instance refers to the DFAT Regional Program allocation

2015/16 Total Australian ODA Estimate
$106.0 million

Australia will provide $166.4 million in 2015-16 for the Pacific Regional program.  In addition, Australia will provide at least $12.0 million for Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development through the Gender Equity Fund.  This is a 10 per cent reduction from 2014-15 levels.

Australia’s Pacific Regional Program complements our Pacific bilateral program investments in the Pacific.  Many of the Pacific’s challenges cannot be addressed solely on a country-by-country basis.  The Regional Program adds value where it is more efficient and effective to work through regional approaches, The Regional Program focuses out efforts on:

  • Regional cooperation and collective diplomacy – working collectively with countries of the region to advance shared interests.
  • Regional economic integration – increasing opportunities for greater movement of people, goods and services access the region and beyond.
  • Regional pooled services – providing access to a wide range of essential technical services at a lower cost than would be available at a national level.
  • Regional norms and standards – supporting Pacific island countries to promote adoption and institutionalization of key regional and international norms and standards.

Effective governance

Australia supports improved regional governance through Pacific regional organisations, of which Australia is a key member and development partner. Regional organisations provide an important vehicle for policy dialogue and for advancing our foreign policy, trade, defence and development interests across the Pacific region. Australia’s diplomatic engagement through regional organisations enhances our relationships in the Pacific.

Australia also supports a number of discrete initiatives for effective governance. These support countries to strengthen Pacific public sector capacities, transparency and accountability and adopt and adhere to regional norms and standards across the region.

Our programs are underpinned by robust research and analysis, supported through partnerships with Australian and regional research institutions.

Read more on effective governance in the Pacific region


Fisheries is a key economic driver in the Pacific region. Australia supports the sector primarily through partnerships with the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA). Within the sector, increases in GDP, government revenues, exports and the vessel day benchmark price have all been achieved. Appropriate onshore investments in fisheries are increasing, as are exports to key international markets. Our support also helps underpin scientific monitoring and assessments to help ensure the future sustainability of fish stocks. Inshore fisheries assistance will help ensure future sustainability and food security.

Read more on our fisheries assistance in the Pacific region

Economic development

Regional economic integration is critical for Pacific island economies and is a key component of the Framework for Pacific Regionalism. Australia supports regional economic integration, including through Pacific Agreement on Closer Economic Relations (PACER Plus).  Australia provides support to the Pacific islands to negotiate the PACER Plus trade agreement, including high-quality technical advice to Pacific Island Countries.

Australia’s aid for trade is improving the environment for growth and investment in the Pacific. Our partnerships with the International Finance Corporation and the Asian Development Bank are helping countries improve their business enabling environment and create opportunities for greater business investment and enterprise development. 

Australian investments in private sector partnerships are promoting economic growth, employment and skills development in the Pacific. Partnerships have been signed with Carnival, Westpac and ANZ which draw on their resources and networks, and will lead to increased economic activity in the region.

The Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access Program (PHAMA) is helping primary producers meet international export requirements.

Australia’s investments in infrastructure in the Pacific are helping to support economic growth and jobs and increase access to health and education services. Australia works with other donors through the  Pacific Regional Infrastructure Facility to ensure our investments are coordinated and effective.

The Pacific Financial Inclusion Program (PFIP) is improving access to financial services for over 300,000 poor men and women and to financial education for over 200,000 students. Australia’s  partnerships with ANZ and Westpac play crucial roles in the security and stability of the Pacific region’s financial systems and make financial services accessible to small and medium enterprises.

Australia’s Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP), led by the Department of Employment,  connects Pacific island and Timor-Leste workers with Australian employers experiencing labour shortages, typically in rural and remote areas. This benefits both parties, and the average worker remits around $5,000 – 6,000 during a six-month placement.

Read more on economic growth and private sector development in the Pacific region


PICs are exposed to a wide variety of natural hazards (cyclones, droughts, earthquakes, floods, storm surges, tsunami and volcanoes). Climate impacts and natural disasters cut across sectors, threaten economic gains and exacerbate existing pressures on food, water, infrastructure, health and economies. Australia supports climate-resilience activities in the Pacific, through its bilateral engagement with specific countries, as well as through contributions to regional and multilateral organisations. Australia also takes steps to protect aid investments that may be vulnerable to future climate risks. The Climate and Oceans Support Program in the Pacific (COSPPac) supports the National Meteorological Services (NMSs) of 14 PICs to provide meteorological services. The Pacific Risk Resilience Program (PRRP) is strengthening the resilience of the most disaster prone PICs to natural disasters and climate change risk.

Read more on resilience in the Pacific region


Australia is committed to enhancing the political, economic and social opportunities of women in the Pacific. Through Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development, a $320 million, 10-year program, Australia provides practical support in partnership with governments, regional and UN organisations, and civil society groups to achieve gender equality. For example, in partnership with UN Women, Australia is working to ensure selected markets in PNG, Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu are safe environments for women to earn a living.

Read more on gender equality and empowering women and girls in the Pacific region


Australia supports the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and the Pacific Disability Forum in  their work with Pacific governments and disabled people’s organisations to implement disability-inclusive policies and create opportunities for people with disabilities. Under the Pacific Sports Partnership program, people with disabilities are involved in regular cricket, table tennis and football activities that improve their quality of life and increase their participation in the community.


PICs have made significant improvements in health outcomes in recent decades, particularly in maternal and child health and in combatting infectious diseases. However, the Pacific region still faces many varied health issues. Guided by the Pacific Regional Health Program Delivery Strategy 2013-2017, Australia began implementing a new regional health program in 2013-14. Australia’s approach has a strong focus on health services that necessitate a regional or multi-country approach, taking into account capacity constraints faced by national level health systems. Australia will continue to work closely with regional and international organisations to support countries to address their health challenges.

Read more on our health assistance in the Pacific region


Australia’s Pacific regional education program focuses on those aspects of Pacific education systems that benefit most from supra-national cooperation. Through a regional approach, Australia supports education programs and partnerships that assist Pacific Islanders to gain the skills needed to lead a productive life. This in turn promotes economic growth in the Pacific and enables labour mobility. Objectives include: improving access for young Pacific Islanders to quality technical education and training matched to the needs of the local private sector; and supporting efficiency gains in the financing and operation of education and training systems region-wide.

Read more on education in the Pacific region

Last Updated: 16 July 2015