The Fred Hollows Foundation is calling on the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, to refute reports in Fairfax Media this morning that the federal government is considering more cuts to Australian Aid.
Of most concern are reports the government is considering abolishing all support for aid in the health sector.
Australian aid has dropped to its lowest level ever with $11.3 billion cut from the aid budget under this government.
Currently more than $495 million is provided for health services to some of the poorest countries in the region and the world. This includes funding to tackle tuberculosis and malaria, and to deliver clean water and sanitation. It also includes funding to restore sight and end avoidable blindness.
“These are shocking reports. If correct, it is incredible that the Minister would be considering abolishing all health aid funding,” said Ian Wishart, CEO of The Fred Hollows Foundation.
“Minister Bishop must immediately refute the reports of further cuts and must specifically refute that all health funding will be cut.”
“The Australian government should be increasing funding to address some of the most horrible and debilitating diseases that exist in developing countries. These diseases ravage local communities and many pose a health security risk for Australia.”
The Fred Hollows Foundation receives funding from the Australian Aid program to deliver sight-saving work in countries including Cambodia
, Bangladesh, Lao PDR and Philippines.
“It would be shocking for the federal government to cut funding for health services delivered by The Fred Hollows Foundation,” Mr Wishart said.
“As a trusted Australian charity, we have restored sight to more than 2.5 million people with the support of the Australian government. A cut to these programs would deny people needlessly blind access to sight-restoring surgery.”
Recent research conducted by The Fred Hollows Foundation by YouGov-Galaxy showed that most Australians oppose cuts to the funding of The Fred Hollows Foundation.
For more information or interviews please contact:
Nishara Miles, Senior Media Adviser, on 0402 445 500 or [email protected]ws.org
Megan Reynolds, Media Adviser, on 0451 535 748 or [email protected]
- In December 2014 the federal government began cutting the Australian aid program, with a total of $11.3 billion now cut from aid.
- This is a 30% reduction in the overall aid budget, which has seen Australia drop to 16th place on the OECD rankings for aid expenditure.
- This has occurred despite steady economic growth and a 10 per cent increase in government spending since 2013.
- There are 36 million people worldwide who are blind and a further 217 million who are vision impaired. 90% of these people live in developing countries.
- 4 out of 5 people who are blind do not have to be; they are blind because they live in poverty and cannot access health services.
- The Fred Hollows Foundation is one of Australia’s leading charities for international development and has restored sight to more than 2.5 million people. We continue the work of the internationally acclaimed ophthalmologist and humanitarian, the late Professor Fred Hollows, who was named Australian of the Year in 1990.