The Fred Hollows Foundation welcomes media reports that the Australian Government will increase foreign aid and development spending in next week’s federal budget by almost $1.4 billion over the next four years.

The commitment includes an additional $375 million for the Pacific, bringing the total aid boost for the region to $900 million.

CEO Ian Wishart said while details of the announcement were yet to be released, it was a welcome boost to development assistance for our region.

“We are hopeful that a significant proportion of this additional spending will be invested on strengthening health systems, equipping hospitals, and training doctors and health workers,” Mr Wishart said.

“Strong healthcare drives social and economic growth, and we know eye health plays a huge part in providing autonomy for people. The Indo-Pacific suffers from massive underinvestment in health care which has worsened the impacts of COVID-19 for so many.

“Australia’s health and prosperity is intertwined with our Indo-Pacific neighbours, so this is welcome news for all of us and we look forward to seeing details of the additional funding on budget night."

The Fred Hollows Foundation carries out eye health work in Indonesia, Timor Leste, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Kiribati, the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Nauru. 

In 2021 in Australia and the Pacific, The Foundation screened 32,670 people, treated 10,390 people with antibiotics for trachoma and trained 1,026 people including surgeons and community health workers. 

The Foundation has a long and proud history in the Pacific. Our locally-led work improves livelihoods and economic wellness by building stronger, more resilient health systems. We have strong and enduring relationships with governments, ministries and national departments of health, local health authorities and universities in the Pacific. Our work has helped strengthen gender equity and women’s leadership in health and we look forward to working with the government to continue to support the region.