Overview of Australia's aid program to Papua New Guinea

How we are helping

2013/14 Actual:
$502.4 million

2014/15 Budget Estimate:
$577.1 million

PNG, our nearest neighbour, faces significant development challenges that will need to be overcome if the country is to achieve stability and prosperity. The aid program to PNG is Australia’s second largest bilateral aid investment. Reflecting our close ties, we are also the largest aid donor to PNG.

Fertile agricultural land, rich mineral deposits and large oil and gas reserves are major sources of wealth for PNG. However, while PNG’s economic growth has been strong over the past decade (and reached 5.1 per cent in 2013), the benefits of this growth have not been equitably distributed. A lack of quality infrastructure, insecurity, weak governance, low education levels and poor health services constrain service delivery and economic development. More than 2 million people—or an estimated 40 per cent of PNG’s population—live in poverty. Life expectancy is only 62 years. Over half of all pregnant women give birth without the help of trained health workers. One in five children are not enrolled in school.

Against these challenges, Australia’s aid investments in PNG aim to support improvements in health, education, law and justice, transport infrastructure, gender equality, and governance. These are outlined in the PNG-Australia Partnership for Development. Australia is also managing the start-up of commitments under the $420 million PNG-Australia Joint Understanding on Further Bilateral Cooperation on Health, Education and Law and Order. In March 2014, we signed a new Economic Cooperation Treaty (ECT) to bring our trade, economic cooperation and development assistance to PNG under a single agreement. This, together with the outcomes of a 2014 assessment of Australia’s aid program in PNG, will help strengthen the alignment of our support with PNG and Australian Government priorities. Performance benchmarks and mutual obligations for Australia’s aid investments in PNG will also be developed. In addition, we will work more closely with the private sector to support development in PNG, and help create an environment favourable to private sector growth.


Australia's support for the health and HIV sector in PNG is directed through health financing, procurement, capacity development, multilateral partnerships and in-country scholarships. Our assistance has included a strong focus on skilled birth attendance, family planning and child health.

Health assistance in Papua New Guinea


Australia's support for the education sector in PNG has a firm focus on improving access to quality education. While the quality of basic education and gender parity will continue to be a key area for our work, we are also increasing assistance to technical vocational education and training, and the tertiary sector.

Education assistance in Papua New Guinea

Law and justice

Australia's support for the law and justice sector in PNG aims to improve the security of communities, address family and sexual violence, improve access to justice, and prevent and address corruption. Assistance is provided through programs managed by DFAT, the Australian Federal Police, the Attorney-General’s Department and AUSTRAC.

Law and justice assistance in Papua New Guinea


Australia' support to governance activities in PNG is delivered through a suite of activities with a clear focus on public sector leadership, performance and accountability, community engagement and electoral reform. We also work to improve the governance of the health, education, law and justice and transport sectors through our various programs.

Governance assistance in Papua New Guinea

Transport infrastructure

Australia's support to transport infrastructure in PNG focuses on maintaining and rehabilitating national priority roads; improving aviation and maritime safety and security standards; and reforming key government agencies. Australian assistance to the sector is delivered through an integrated program which includes advisory support from relevant Australian Government departments.

Infrastructure assistance in Papua New Guinea


Australia's support to gender equality and women’s empowerment is critical to PNG’s economic and human development. We work to foster women’s leadership and economic empowerment and to end violence against women and girls through a range of specific activities as well as embedding gender as a key part of all of our sector programs.

Women's empowerment and gender equality in Papua New Guinea

Our results

In 2013-14, Australia's aid program supported a range of achievements in line with the priorities of the PNG-Australia Partnership for Development. For example:

  • We worked to promote effective law and justice through strengthening access to legal services, policing and the protection of victims of family and sexual violence. For example, our funding contributed to:
    • the establishment of 14 Family and Sexual Violence Units by June 2014
    • training and infrastructure development for the Royal PNG Constabulary, including in Bougainville
    • more female village court magistrates, bringing the number to 900 by the end of 2013.
  • Our assistance resulted in increased access and quality of education in schools and higher education institutions, through:
    • the training of 4,315 teachers and building or upgrading 120 classrooms
    • assisting five PNG universities to complete quality assessments
    • financing over 600,000 children to attend elementary school, reaching a 79 per cent national net enrolment rate in basic education
    • supporting 328 postgraduate study awards in Australia and 505 study opportunities in PNG.
  • We worked with Australian NGOs to strengthen PNG’s health and HIV/AIDS services. Our funding enabled:
    • 24,848 babies to be delivered under the supervision of skilled staff
    • 54,393 children to be immunised against measles and other diseases
    • increased access to anti-retroviral therapy (ART) for HIV/AIDS patients.
  • Our aid also supported the development and maintenance of essential transport infrastructure for economic growth and service delivery, resulting in:
    • the maintenance of over 2,000km of PNG’s most economically important roads, totalling 9,000km since 2010
    • strengthened aviation and maritime safety and security standards through modernising and upgrading PNG’s aid traffic management systems and communications.


A group of schoolchildren reading books
In PNG there are few functioning libraries outside the school system and most children do not have access to books at all (credit: DFAT).
A group of people at a polling booth
Electoral Commission workers show local candidate posters at a poll booth in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea (credit: ADF/DFAT).
Three men looking at machinery
The Australia Pacific Technical College utilises existing workshops and training rooms in partnership with local industry to up skill local workers in trades (credit: DFAT).