Overview of Australia's aid program to Vanuatu

How we are helping

2013/14 Actual:
$60.7 million

2014/15 Budget Estimate:
$60.4 million

Australia is an important economic partner for Vanuatu, providing the country with the majority of its tourists, foreign direct investment and aid. Australia is the largest aid donor to Vanuatu; our aid comprises more than 60 per cent of total ODA to Vanuatu (excluding China). Australia is committed to supporting sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction in Vanuatu. The Australia-Vanuatu Partnership for Development guides our aid engagement in Vanuatu.

Vanuatu’s economy is expanding, with Vanuatu’s real GDP growth in 2013 at 2.8 per cent. However, income-earning opportunities are often limited, especially for women. Many of the country’s people live in difficult conditions, have poor health, and cannot access opportunities and services Australians take for granted. Three-quarters of Vanuatu’s population live in rural areas and remote islands, and many lack quality primary education, basic health services, regular and safe water supply, modern energy and reliable transport. Poverty rates are highest in urban communities, although urban areas tend to have better services than rural areas. At least a third of residents in and around Port Vila live in poverty.

The focus of Australia’s aid program as articulated in the Partnership for Development is economic governance, infrastructure, education, health and law and justice. Australian aid is working to empower women across all of these areas, in recognition that this is one of the best ways to achieve economic growth and prosperity and as part of the ten-year Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development program. Australia also helps Vanuatu prepare for and respond to natural disasters and emergencies. We work with a range of partners including the Vanuatu Government, the private sector and community organisations.

Economic governance

Australia is supporting Vanuatu to progress reform on economic governance issues. We are providing assistance to improve Vanuatu’s public expenditure management to promote durable, equitable and broad-based growth, as well as better service delivery.

Economic governance assistance in Vanuatu


Australia is helping Vanuatu develop essential infrastructure to support economic growth and service delivery. We are providing assistance to improve rural roads in priority areas, and improve Port Vila’s urban infrastructure.

Infrastructure assistance in Vanuatu


Education underpins economic development and poverty reduction. Australia is contributing to better access to, and quality of, education for all boys and girls. We are also equipping Vanuatu’s men and women with relevant skills and knowledge to expand economic opportunities. We are providing support to early education, technical and vocational education and training (TVET) and university education.

Education assistance in Vanuatu


Australia is providing assistance to strengthen Vanuatu’s health system, including rural health care services, malaria elimination, child and maternal health, specialist medical care in Port Vila hospital and nurse training.

Health assistance in Vanuatu

Law and justice

Australia is contributing to more effective legal institutions and improved police services in Vanuatu. This includes support for better prevention of and response to violence against women and children.

Law and justice assistance in Vanuatu

Our results

Economic governance

  • In 2013, all provincially located Finance Service Bureaus were opened with Australian support and are now operational, with access to the Government of Vanuatu Financial Management Information System over the Australian-supported Government Broadband Network.
  • Around 4000 women and 5000 men attended 175 financial literacy workshops run by the National Bank of Vanuatu with Australian assistance. On Tanna island around 600 women who had attended the workshops formed cooperative business groups.
  • In 2013 Australian support for improved access to financial services resulted in two new ATMs on Malekula and Tanna islands, 600 new micro-loans and 15 000 new rural based savings accounts with a value of Vt 420 million in deposits.
  • Improvements to Value-Added Tax (VAT) collection meant that 105 per cent of the 2013 revenue target was collected, despite lower than forecast GDP growth.
  • The Auditor-General’s Office cleared the backlog of government audits. From 2011 to 2012, 28 audits were completed, with an additional six government audits plus three audits of DFAT grants completed in 2012. This compares with one completed audit between 2007 and 2010.
  • In 2013-14 a tariff review conducted by the Utilities Regulatory Authority, with support from Australia, resulted in a 15 per cent reduction in average energy costs in Luganville, the second largest economic centre in Vanuatu.
  • As of June 2014, Australian support to land administration has resulted in more than 10,500 leases being registered, a digital cadastral database 90 per cent completed and 3859 new strata titles issued.
  • 205 ni-Vanuatu participated in the Seasonal Worker Program in 2013-14.
  • Australia helped Wan Smolbag, a local civil society organisation, engage with peri-urban youth to enable them to be active in the formal economy. In 2013 Wan Smolbag’s Youth Centre services reached 1804 registered youth and included training in literacy, computing, agriculture, ceramics, mechanics and nutrition.


  • In 2013-14 Australia supported the Vanuatu Public Works Department to deliver 128km of routine maintenance of priority rural roads, which involved 2616 days of work for women and 8301 days of work for men.
  • With Australian support, the Vanuatu Government successfully updated and legislated the Public Roads Act and Building Act in 2013-14. This will bring improvements to the regulatory and policy framework for infrastructure, including for issues such as road safety and disability access.
  • The Australian-funded construction of the new National Library and Archives Building was completed in 2013. Since opening in late 2013 over 2500 people have signed the visitor’s book.


  • In 2013-14 a new curriculum for years 1 to 6 was finalised and approved with Australian support to basic education.
  • There were further enhancements to teacher quality in 2013-14, with 94 new teachers completing their teacher training, new courses developed for existing teachers, and the Vanuatu Parliament passing a new Teacher Service Commission Act which will bring about much-needed reforms.
  • Through Australian assistance for technical and vocational education and training (TVET), 35 different accredited courses and 50 business development workshops were facilitated for 852 participants in 2013-14. Ninety-one per cent of participants rated their training as “excellent” and a 2012 study showed an increase in participant household incomes by an average of 20 per cent.
  • 28 ni-Vanuatu bungalow businesses in provinces with a TVET Centre performed above the national tourist accommodation minimum standards (previously none did).
  • 141 ni-Vanuatu (55 per cent women) graduated from the Australia Pacific Technical College’s Port Vila campus with internationally recognised qualifications, bringing the total number of ni-Vanuatu graduates to 4,919 since 2007.
  • There were 228 ni-Vanuatu on Australia Awards in Australia (56) and in the region (172) in 2013-14. All 11 returning graduates either returned to their jobs or found employment relevant to their field of study.
  • An Australia Award recipient who graduated in 2013 was Vanuatu’s first scholarship student with a disability to complete a university education.


  • Malaria incidence was reduced from 7 per cent to 1 per cent between 2003 and 2013. In Tafea and Torba provinces malaria has almost been eliminated. There were no deaths from malaria in 2013.
  • The Village Health Worker Program supported by Australia enabled delivery and use of improved medical supply kits to over 150 remote villages throughout Vanuatu and renovated or constructed seven aid posts in 2013-14.
  • Australia supported the Vanuatu Government to construct and install two oxygen plants in main referral hospitals for northern and southern provinces in 2013-14.
  • 8,407 patients accessed Wan Smolbag’s reproductive health clinics in 2013.

Law and justice

  • Assistance through the Vanuatu-Australia Police Project in 2013-14 resulted in the opening of 3 new police stations in remote areas, the recruitment of 20 male and 13 female new police officers, and a new professional standards policy to tackle discipline in the police force.
  • In 2013-14, Australian support to legal and justice institutions resulted in a reduction of case backlogs in the Courts and prosecution offices, improvements in police criminal record management, the development of the State Prosecutor’s Handbook, and the piloting of a community-based child protection program in 43 rural communities.
  • The Vanuatu Women’s Centre provided 4267 people with counselling and support services across all six provinces in 2012-13. Follow-on surveys suggest 95 per cent of clients were satisfied with the counselling received. The Centre also helped 280 at-risk women to obtain Family Protection Orders.


Prawn farming training in Vanuatu is reaching remote communities and bringing skills for development (credit: DFAT).
A young girl reads a booklet on domestic violence in the Port Vila vegetable markets (credit: DFAT).
Philip Masing fixes a Public Works vehicle at the municipality on Malakula Island, Vanuatu (credit: DFAT).
Constables Jack Kanas and Noelline Saksak patrol the streets of Port Vila, Vanuatu (credit: DFAT).
A prawn farm in operation, Vanuatu (credit: DFAT).
First grade students during class at Norsup Primary School (credit: DFAT).
Perry Louis a lab assistant at the Norsup Hospital, Malekula Island, Vanuatu (credit: DFAT).