Overview of Australia's aid program to the Philippines

How we are helping

2015-16 Total Australian ODA Estimated Outcome
$84.8 million

2016-17 Bilateral Budget Estimate
$67.0 million

2016-17 Total Australian ODA Estimate
$81.9 million

Total Australian Official Development Assistance (ODA) to the Philippines will be an estimated $81.9 million in 2016-17. Our economic partnership with the Philippines will focus all elements of our trade, investment and aid initiatives working together to promote growth.

The Philippines is one of Australia’s longest-standing bilateral relationships. We have shared interests and values, supported by strong people-to-people links. Australia is home to more than 300,000 people of Filipino heritage, with over 10,000 Filipino students enrolled in Australian universities and vocational institutions in 2016. Australia’s interests in the Philippines will be pursued through the development of a well-managed and stable Philippine government and a more prosperous, inclusive and open economy. A more open economy will not only benefit Filipinos, but also allow both nations to continue to pursue a mature economic partnership.

Australia delivers targeted advice and technical assistance that aims to have a catalytic effect both on reform efforts and capacity development of the Philippine Government. Given the Philippines’ current positive economic position we will shift focus from basic service delivery, such as classroom construction, towards supporting the Philippine Government to better manage its own resources.

The strategic direction of Australian aid to the Philippines is informed by the Australian Government’s development policy Australian aid: promoting prosperity, reducing poverty, enhancing stability; Australia’s national interests; by our ability to add value; and our previous development results. Australia’s aid will align with the priorities of the Philippines Government which is seeking to put the country on the path of accelerated and inclusive development. The Philippine Government has had an ambitious reform agenda in recent years to tackle poverty, improve governance and address corruption, while pushing through important social sector reforms, including education, and promoting peace in the Southern Philippines.

Our aid program is organised around the following three mutually reinforcing objectives as outlined in the Aid Investment Plan.

Objective 1: Enhancing the foundations for economic growth

Australia will make greater investment in building the foundations for economic growth through carefully targeted investments in economic reform, infrastructure, aid for trade and education. Education investments will lay the ground work for a better educated workforce and promote higher participation in the formal labour market.

Enhancing the foundations for economic growth

Objective 2: Building stronger institutions for transparent and accountable governance

Improving the quality of governance in the Philippines is fundamental to the country’s prosperity and stability. In response to the challenge of weak institutions and corruption, we will support the national government as it fosters a culture of accountability and transparency.

Building stronger institutions for transparent and accountable governance

Objective 3: Improving conditions for peace and stability

Australia’s national interest in regional political stability promotes programs in Mindanao that support a more credible and widely supported peace agreement, strengthened institutional capacity to implement the agreement and stronger local mechanisms for averting the escalation of violence. Our programs will also have a positive impact in the medium term on poverty and growth at the local level. Australia’s investments in peace and stability are targeted, flexible and build on previous experience.

The women, peace and security agenda is a priority of Australia’s work in Mindanao. Our program provides support to address issues affecting women and men during and after conflict. This includes helping women to participate in the peace process, ensuring their needs for protection are met and incorporating gender perspectives in program delivery.

Improving conditions for peace and stability

Our results

  • Supporting the Philippines Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program enable the government to harness more private sector financing to more effectively deliver infrastructure in roads, rail and ports. In 2015-16 we helped the government to tender and award two projects worth USD631 million.
  • Over the six years of the Provincial Roads Management Program to June 2016, it had rehabilitated and maintained a total distance of 628 kilometres of provincial roads. The program also leveraged AUD200 million in Philippine Government funding in the 2016 national budget for local road rehabilitation in 74 provinces.
  • Supported the creation of the Philippine Competition Commission through human resource, organisational development and business planning support. The Commission has been set up to ensure efficient and fair market competition among businesses engaged in trade, industry, and all commercial economic activities.
  • Providing technical assistance to the Philippine Government Negotiating Panel and the Bangsamoro Transition Commission during the peace negotiations (between the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front), and funding multi-sectoral consultations that has contributed to wider support and credibility of the peace negotiations.
  • Australia has provided capacity building for women at the community level and connected them with other women’s groups to build advocacy and information sharing networks. Women leaders who received training have increased capacity, knowledge and skills for political participation.
  • Demonstrated best practice disaster response preparedness through deployment of our in-country relief supplies to support the Philippines humanitarian response to Typhoons Melor and Koppu in 2015-16.
  • In 2015-16 Australia’s support enabled 76,000 children who previously had no access to education to be in school. This includes more than 2,500 indigenous children in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao.

Our changing program

The Philippines program has been reshaped to form a consolidated program aligned with the key objectives of inclusive economic growth; effective governance; and peace and stability. This reflects a transition from a traditional donor-recipient partnership to an economic partnership with the Philippines, with an emphasis on investments that are targeted, catalytic, leverage the Philippine Government’s own resources and are based on the Philippines’ own commitments in the Filipino Development Plan.

In 2017-18 we will launch a new Trade and Inclusive Economic Growth facility, designed to help the Philippines to achieve sustained inclusive growth through improving competitiveness, increasing trade and investment, and strengthening economic institutions. A new infrastructure program is being developed to promote improved infrastructure planning and delivery and we will continue to support Public Private Partnerships. We will support education initiatives by transitioning from a focus on classroom construction to the provision of technical advice to improve standards and teaching and learning outcomes, allowing the Philippine education system to perform at international levels. We will build academic linkages between Australia and the Philippines through the Philippines Project with the Australian National University.

The Human Resource and Organisational Development Facility will be realigned to focus on a smaller set of primarily economic agencies, and the Australia Awards Scholarships 2016 intake will be reduced from 120 to 60 scholars. We will continue support to peace and stability programs, particularly in the southern Philippines and Muslim Mindanao, through a range of education and governance initiatives.

Disaster risk reduction principles, environmental and social safeguards and disability-inclusive policies will be routinely and consistently considered in the design, implementation and monitoring of our aid investments, particularly in the infrastructure sector. Australia will continue to be a responsive neighbour to support the Philippine Government to respond to large scale natural disaster events.

Last Updated: 23 February 2017
People studying a map
Government units, NGOs, academics and indigenous communities participate in a mapping workshop to identify threats to the forest and environment ecosystem (credit: DFAT).
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop launches an education programme in the Philippines (credit: DFAT).
A wooden bridge
Engineers work on the construction of a hanging footbridge as part of an ASEAN disaster response exercise in Sapang Bato, Philippines (credit: DFAT).