Overview of Australia's aid program to Vanuatu

How we are helping

2014/15 Bilateral Budget Estimate
$41.9 million

2015/16 Bilateral Budget Estimate
$41.9 million

2015/16 Total Australian ODA Estimate
$60.9 million

DFAT will manage an estimated $41.9 million in bilateral funding to Vanuatu in 2015-16. Total Australian Official Development Assistance (ODA) in 2015-16 will be an estimated $60.9 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.

Income-earning opportunities in Vanuatu 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 putting a special emphasis on empowering 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.

Tropical Cyclone Pam

Tropical Cyclone Pam caused widespread damage to Vanuatu in March 2015.  The economic impact of the cyclone has been calculated as equivalent to around 64 per cent of GDP. Australia has been working closely with the Government of Vanuatu to meet immediate needs and to support Vanuatu’s early and long-term recovery. Australia’s additional cyclone-related assistance to Vanuatu (set out below) totals over $50 million.

In the cyclone's aftermath Australia provided $10 million in emergency humanitarian assistance as follows:

  • $5 million to partners on the ground, including Australian NGOs, the Australian Red Cross, the World Food Programme and United Nations Children’s Fund;
  • distribution of Australian humanitarian supplies, including shelter, water and sanitation kits to assist more than 13,000 people;
  • deployment of an Australian Medical Assistance Team (AUSMAT) that provided urgent life-saving assistance immediately after the cyclone, including supporting Port Vila Central Hospital to treat 1,341 patients and supporting 26 medical evacuations from the outer islands to Port Vila;
  • deployment of an Australian Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team which assisted with immediate clean-up and urgent repairs to critical infrastructure including Port Vila Central Hospital, health and education facilities, roads and government buildings;
  • support for sexual and reproductive health activities to help women at risk following the cyclone; and
  • the deployment of Australian disaster experts embedded with the Vanuatu National Disaster Management Office (NDMO), to support coordination and aid delivery. 

The Australian Defence Force provided land, sea and air assets and personnel in support of the humanitarian response.

On 16 April 2015, Australia announced an additional $5 million to assist the Government of Vanuatu to respond to early recovery priorities including:

  • $2.3 million for urgent school repairs and the replacement of damaged learning materials;
  • $1.5 million to repair health infrastructure, re-stock pharmaceutical supplies, strengthen immunisation and support the cold storage and transport of medicines; and
  • $1.2 million to address urgent food needs and restore local food sources.

On 23 May 2015, Australia committed $35 million to support longer term recovery in Vanuatu, to be developed in consultation with the Vanuatu Government. Australia’s long-term assistance will help Vanuatu to:

  • support livelihoods, economic recovery and the private sector;
  • repair and rebuild critical public infrastructure;
  • restore health and education facilities; and
  • support gender and disability inclusion.

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 4,000 women and 5,000 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 134km of routine maintenance of priority rural roads, which involved 4,062 days of work for women and 16,361 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 2,500 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.
  • Awareness raising for the new curriculum and language policy is underway, with 749 Year 1-6 teachers made aware of the new curriculum.
  • 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).
  • In April 2015, an additional 91 ni-Vanuatu (59 per cent women) graduated from the Australia Pacific Technical College with internationally recognised qualifications, bringing the total number of ni-Vanuatu graduates to 1,230 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 2014. In Tafea and Torba provinces malaria has almost been eliminated. There were no deaths from malaria in 2014.
  • In 2014, the Village Health Worker Program supported 202 village health workers  throughout Vanuatu with pre-service and in-service training and 12 aid posts were renovated and 10 new aid posts were constructed.
  • Australia supported the Vanuatu Government to construct and install two oxygen plants in main referral hospitals for northern and southern provinces in 2013-14.
  • 9,731 patients accessed Wan Smolbag’s reproductive health clinics in 2014.

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.
  • Australian Government support to the Vanuatu Police Force (VPF) is now delivered through the Policing and Justice Support Program, thereby providing better linkages to other elements of the law and justice sector, which is seeing greater participation of police in cross-sector agency high-level meetings and join training opportunities.
  • In 2013-14, Australian support to legal and justice institutions resulted in data starting to be used to appropriately inform management decisions in the Courts and the State Prosecutions Department, increased capacity of public criminal defence at the Public Solicitor’s Office,  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, the piloting of a community-based child protection program, and progress on work to appoint authorised persons and registered counsellors under the Family Protection Act on the islands of Efate and Santo.
  • The Vanuatu Women’s Centre provided 6,007 people with counselling and support services across all six provinces in 2013-14. Follow-on surveys suggest 97 per cent of clients were satisfied with the counselling received. The Centre also helped 369 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).