Australian charities forced to scale back international programs after funding cuts

Australia’s largest international charities are cancelling or scaling back critical programs in the world’s poorest countries ahead of next month’s budget.

“The whole of the aid sector is hanging on the edge, waiting nervously for the May budget when it will be revealed exactly which parts of the aid budget will be cut – a bit like a doomsday clock,” ActionAid Australia’s Holly Miller said. “It’s widely accepted that everything is on the table – nothing in the aid program is safe.”

ActionAid has slashed projects in Afghanistan, is likely to cut programs in Uganda and Kenya in the coming year, and will close entirely by 2016.

Care Australia says its very successful maternal and infant health project in Papua New Guinea, which reaches 22,000 people, is in the firing line. Other likely hits include programs in Cambodia and Malawi affecting more than 20,000 people. “We had long-term commitments from the Australian Government and we made commitments to communities in these poor countries,” Care Australia chief executive Dr Julia Newton-Howes said.

ChildFund Australia‘s Nigel Spence said it was hard to feel confident that there would not be further cuts given the broken promises that have already occurred. ChildFund scaled back 17 programs last year, predominantly in PNG and South-East Asia.

Oxfam Australia, which lost almost $1 million in government funding last year, was forced to cut back on projects in PNG and Indonesia.

[Australia Broadcasting Corporation]

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