The Fred Hollows Foundation welcomes the Australian Government’s ongoing commitment to investing in the health of our region and beyond through its international development cooperation program.

The Government has pledged to support developing countries through Official Development Assistance (ODA), delivering $4.768 billion in ODA, an increase of $191.8 million over the next four years.

The Foundation’s CEO Ian Wishart said the Federal Budget 2023-24 put Australia on the right track, but the challenge remains formidable.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that at least 2.2 billion people worldwide are blind or vision impaired, with 1 billion of these being preventable or yet to be addressed.

“While increases to the program are modest, they are responsible and sustainable steps in the right direction in the efforts to rebuild Australia’s International Development Program,” Mr Wishart said.

“However, given the enormous need we encourage the government to continue its efforts to rebuild the international development program and place health investments at the heart of future development budgets. This is critical to creating sustainable, inclusive growth and significantly improving global health outcomes.

“This investment builds on the $620 million Pacific and Southeast Asia package announced in February and looks set to boost the health of our whole region.

“However, we can’t underestimate the challenge before us. Fred once said that for most people it’s a battle to secure the right to live in peace and enjoy good health, and he was right.

“The Government has made tough decisions to balance the budget, but a tight fiscal environment is the right time to be investing in eye health because of the significant returns that affordable eye care brings – increased productivity and quality of life, improved educational outcomes and reduced health care costs.

“The Foundation looks forward to the release of the Government’s new international development policy. This framework will serve as an important roadmap for effective and impactful health investments that align with Australia’s broader goals and values.

“We also welcome the Government’s commitment to embed the perspectives of First Nations Australians into our development efforts and to place gender equity, disability and social inclusion at the centre of Australia’s development program. 

“The Foundation remains committed to working with the government to deliver sustainable, cost-effective solutions that will transform the lives of those affected by avoidable blindness.”

Cover Photo Credit: Michael Amendolia