Overview of Australia's aid program to the Philippines

How we are helping

2014/15 Bilateral Outcome
$120.4 million

2015/16 Bilateral Budget Estimate
$67.0 million

2015/16 Total Australian ODA Estimate
$83.0 million

Total Australian Official Development Assistance (ODA) to the Philippines will be an estimated $83 million in 2015/16, representing around 0.3 per cent of Philippines Government annual revenue of over USD42.5 billion and overseas remittances of USD28.5 billion. However, it is not the size of the program per se which is important, but rather its ability to leverage change to promote economic growth. Our economic partnership with the Philippines will focus all elements of our trade, investment and aid initiatives working together to promote growth.

Australia will deliver targeted advice and technical assistance that will have a catalytic effect both on reform efforts and the capacity of the Philippines’ government. Given the Philippines’ currently positive economic position we will shift focus from basic service delivery, such as classroom construction, towards supporting the Philippines 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 Administration has an ambitious reform agenda to tackle poverty, improve governance and address corruption, while pushing through important social sector reforms, including education, and promoting peace in the Southern Philippines.

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 over 250,000 people of Filipino heritage, with over 10,000 Filipino students are enrolled in Australian universities and vocational institutions. Australia’s interests in the Philippines will be pursued by 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. Two-way trade was $3.8 billion in 2014, but has the potential to grow and benefit both countries.

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 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, heightened 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.

Improving conditions for peace and stability

Our results

  • Supporting the Philippines Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program to achieve the signing of seven infrastructure projects worth at least USD360 million.
  • Assisting the Philippine Government implement the treasury single account resulting in savings of AUD10 million through the rationalisation of dormant bank accounts.
  • 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 contributed to wider support and credibility of the peace negotiations.
  • Australia’s immediate and effective response to super-typhoon Haiyan in November 2013:
    • Australia contributed AUD41 million to support the immediate and life-saving needs of over 3 million people
    • At least 3,281 patients were treated and 238 surgeries were performed by the Australian Medical Assistance Team
    • The Royal Australian Air Force provided much needed air transport - transporting over 1,800 metric tonnes of relief goods, 200 officials and humanitarian workers, and 3,300 survivors
    • The Australian Defence Force also helped repair 16 schools allowing 15,000 children to go back to school.
  • Building 921 classrooms and establishing 1,463 alternative community learning centres in 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 Philippines’ Development Plan.

We will launch a new aid for trade facility designed to deliver results in priority policy areas including trade facilitation, international competiveness and effective governance. We will also design a new infrastructure program to promote improved infrastructure planning and delivery and 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.

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 modest support to peace and stability programs, particularly in the southern Philippines and Muslim Mindanao, through a range of education and governance initiatives.

There will be no new funding for disaster risk management 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 Philippines Government to respond to large scale natural disaster events.

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).