Overview of Australia's aid program to Papua New Guinea

How we are helping

2018-19 Total Australian ODA Estimated Outcome
$578.0 million

2019-20 Bilateral Budget Estimate
$512.3 million

2019-20 Total Australian ODA Estimate
$607.5 million

Australia values its longstanding ties with Papua New Guinea (PNG). It is our nearest neighbour and close regional partner, we share a border, economic interests and common legal frameworks and over time, our relationship has matured and we are negotiating a Comprehensive Economic and Strategic Partnership.

Infographic, link to text version below

Papua New Guinea and Australia: a broad and enduring partnership infographic. Larger version [PDF 473 KB] | Text version

The Australian Government will provide an estimated $607.5 million in total ODA to PNG in 2019-20. This will include an estimated $512.3 million in bilateral funding.

Despite enormous resource potential and close proximity to Asian markets, PNG faces a number of challenges to its future prosperity including poor law and order, weak public service, lack of infrastructure, complex governance arrangements, inequality, and a rapidly growing population. PNG also remains vulnerable to climate change and natural disasters, including earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis.

The population is overwhelmingly poor with 80 per cent living in traditional rural communities. The development challenges for young people in PNG are stark: an estimated 40 per cent of children are stunted, one in five are not enrolled in school and nearly half the population is under the age of 20. Family and sexual violence is endemic, with some of the highest rates of violence against women and children in the world.

Despite these development challenges, PNG is seeking to achieve upper middle-income country status by 2050 (PNG Vision 2050). PNG's economic growth agenda focuses upon investments in infrastructure, job skills and partnering with the private sector. PNG also has a strong focus on decentralisation to improve service delivery at the local level.

Our program is organised around the following three reinforcing objectives as outlined in the Aid Investment Plan 2015–18 (extended by one year). We are integrating gender equality, youth, disability-inclusive, and climate change measures in all investments.

Objective 1: Promoting effective governance

An effective public sector and rule of law are fundamental for PNG's ongoing stability and economic growth. Our assistance is supporting enhanced governance by strengthening public sector leadership and sub-national service delivery, performance and accountability and community engagement. In consultation with the PNG Government, we will continue to provide policing assistance aimed at preventing and combatting corruption and strengthening access to justice.

Investments for promoting effective governance in Papua New Guinea

Objective 2: Enabling economic growth

Australia's assistance can be a catalyst for more inclusive economic growth in PNG. We engage with the private sector and support initiatives that promote growth. This includes support for infrastructure, skilling the workforce and a range of other investments to reduce the costs of doing business, reduce risk and improve productivity.

Investments for enabling economic growth in Papua New Guinea

Objective 3: Enhancing human development

PNG continues to face enormous challenges in providing access to quality health and education opportunities. Australia is assisting PNG to achieve a more effective health system, targeting improvements in maternal and child health and communicable disease control. To maximise the influence of our investments we focus on key areas of the health system, including workforce, infrastructure and financing.

Australia's support for the education sector in PNG supports quality teaching and learning; expanded skills based training; service delivery at district and provincial level; and greater capacity building through strengthened leadership. Our goal is for PNG citizens to gain the skills to take advantage of employment opportunities.

People-to-people and institutional links between PNG and Australia are supported through the Australia Awards scholarships and Australian Volunteers for International Development. The Australia-Papua New Guinea Network, the Emerging Leaders Dialogue and the New Colombo Plan also foster and strengthen people-to-people links.

Investments for enhancing human development in Papua New Guinea

Our results

In 2018-19, Australia's aid program contributed to a range of outcomes, including:

Objective 1: Promoting effective governance

  • More than 1.1 million people made use of improved services provided by civil society, church, private sector and government partners
  • The Church Partnership Program provided livelihood training to almost 18,000 people and literacy training to more than 4,600 adults
  • Over 7,350 women and girls have accessed crisis support services and family and sexual violence centres
  • The Law and Justice program increased the awareness of people's legal rights and responsibilities for more than 140,000 people.

Objective 2: Enabling economic growth

  • Commenced the Coral Sea Cable project, which will deliver much faster internet speeds to Papua New Guinea by the end of 2019
  • Played a key role in enabling the Government of PNG secure USD600 million in international finance from the Asian Development Bank and World Bank
  • Supported the maintenance and reconstruction of over 1,700 kilometres of roads across 12 provinces.

Objective 3: Enhancing human development

  • Australia played a pivotal role in helping vaccinate over 3.3 million children for polio, helping to interrupt the spread of the disease
  • Supported the establishment of a National Skills Development Agency to ensure the Technical and Vocational Education and Training sector can meet PNG and international standards
  • Supported training for more than 1,700 school administrators across PNG in basic financial management to improve budgeting and accountability
  • Supporting 535 Papua New Guineans to study in Australia and in PNG through Australia Awards.

Our changing program

A new bilateral aid partnership was agreed in 2016 and was extended to 2019. This establishes our shared vision to ensure development cooperation contributes to sustained and inclusive economic growth and to reduce poverty in PNG. The current Australian assistance program is implemented in accordance with the PNG-Australia Aid Partnership Arrangement 2016-17 and the Joint Understanding between Australia and PNG on bilateral cooperation on Health, Education and Law and Order. During 2019-20, we will develop a new development assistance plan with PNG.

Given PNG's sovereign responsibility and financial ability to undertake basic service delivery, Australia is increasingly encouraging PNG to deliver services using its own resources.

As part of the shift in Australia's aid investment agreed between our two Governments, we are increasing initiatives focused on private sector-led growth. This includes increased support for infrastructure, business, agriculture, innovation and financial inclusion and ways to engage the private sector  in new investments.

Australia is also increasing support to initiatives that empower women to take on greater leadership roles in public and community life, and participate in the economy.

Australia is committed to supporting PNG's climate change and disaster risk management efforts, as well as to managing climate and other disaster risks in our aid investments. We are also working with other donors to help PNG secure access to international sources of climate-related development funding.

Recognising the importance of the rule of law and effective governance to PNG's prosperity, we will augment our policing and public sector capacity building assistance.

Australia's development assistance to Bougainville aims to improve peace, stability and prosperity as the Government of PNG and the Autonomous Bougainville Government continue to implement autonomy arrangements under the Bougainville Peace Agreement.

Last Updated: 11 October 2019