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November 30, 2023 | Australia, Global Health | Share this update
On November 30, 2023, the Australian government announced that it will provide up to AUD12 million (US$8 million) to support governments and local communities in the Pacific and Southeast Asia to lower HIV transmission, reduce stigma, and improve testing and treatment.
The initiative was announced by Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong at a World AIDS Day event in Canberra.
The funding is slated to be provided through UNAIDS and the Australian NGO Health Equity Matters, previously called the Australian Federation of AIDS Organizations. The funding has the stated goal of accelerating access to new HIV treatment and prevention through community-led activities.
The funding is to be provided from the government’s AUD620 million (US$470 million) Partnerships for a Healthy Region initiative, which is being undertaken over the span of five years.
November 22, 2023 | Australia, Family Planning, Gender Equality | Share this update
On November 22, 2023, Australian Minister for International Development and the Pacific Pat Conroy announced AUD37 million (US$24 million) to enable a second phase of UNFPA's Transformative Agenda for Women, Youths, and Adolescents program.
The funding is slated to cooperate with nine Pacific governments over five years to improve regional SRHR services. Australia has previously funded existing programs to assist UNFPA suppliers and International Planned Parenthood Federation activities.
November 21, 2023 | Australia, Climate | Share this update
On November 21, 2023, Australian Minster for Climate Change and Energy Chris Bowen indicated that the Australian government supported increased contributions to climate L&D funding.
Bowen made the comments at Sydney's Lowy Institute. He also noted that a wider range of countries and private sector donors needed to contribute to L&D funds, and that Pacific and other vulnerable SIDS should be the major beneficiaries of L&D funds.
Bowen indicated that Australia had constructively engaged in the design of future arrangements for the L&D fund ahead of COP28 in the UAE.
November 17, 2023 | Australia, Global Health, Gender Equality, Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health | Share this update
On November 17, 2023, Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong pledged AUD13 million (US$8 million) to improve access to cervical cancer treatments, vaccination, and screening expertise under Australia’s Partnerships for a Healthy Region initiative, focused primarily on Southeast Asia and the Pacific.
In low- and middle-income countries, women and girls face rates of cervical cancer up to 13 times greater than those experienced in Australia. Certain demographics, such as women living with HIV, have a chance of dying from cervical cancer up to six times greater than average.
Assistant Minister for Health and Aged Care Ged Kearney also announced the Australian government’s national strategy for the elimination of cervical cancer in Australia. The strategy was developed in conjunction with the Australian Centre for the Prevention of Cervical Cancer.
The strategy includes 70% coverage of five-year cervical cancer screening of those aged 25 to 74. It also aimed to provide HPV vaccination to 90% of boys so that all children are safe from HPV.
November 9, 2023 | Australia, Climate | Share this update
On November 10, 2023, Tuvaluan Prime Minister Kausea Natano and Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese signed a bilateral treaty elevating the relationship between Tuvalu and Australia to a formalized partnership known as the Falepili Union.
Australia will contribute a further AUD350 million (US$220 million) for climate resilience infrastructure in the Pacific. AUD75 million (US$48 million) from this pledge will focus on community and off-grid energy systems for remote areas.
Both nations pledged to work closely together on development needs, explore opportunities to build capability in Tuvalu, and support key infrastructure. The leaders also underscored their commitment to assisting Tuvalu in response to natural disasters, health pandemics, and security threats, including those related to climate change. Australia also committed to providing a special pathway for 280 Tuvaluans to migrate annually to Australia. Tuvalu has a population of 11,000 and is one of the countries most vulnerable to rising sea levels.
Australia also pledged support for Tuvalu's climate change mitigation efforts, including the expansion of the Tuvalu Coastal Adaptation Project. The project is intended to increase Tuvaluan land area and protect Tuvaluan culture.
October 30, 2023 | Australia, US, Agricultural R&D, Climate, Agriculture | Share this update
On October 30, 2023, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and US President Joe Biden issued a joint statement on development cooperation following a state meeting in Washington DC, US.
The statement detailed a plan to cooperate on clean energy supply chains and seek advice on clean energy cooperation and industry development from both the public and private sector. It also included plans for the development of an Indo-Pacific Zero Transition Bond, to generate funding for SMEs focused on clean energy transition.
Albanese and Biden noted the assurance that the GCF, as well as other multilateral funding agencies' resources, will remain accessible to the vulnerable states most affected by climate change, particularly small island states.
The statement noted that the US and Australia would additionally assist in the financing of submarine cable connections for Pacific Island countries.
Both countries announced plans to assist ASEAN initiatives to develop sustainable and resilient agri-food systems, including through the strengthening of regional agricultural R&D.
October 19, 2023 | Australia, Global health R&D, Global Health | Share this update
On October 19, 2023, AIID submitted its recommendation to the Australian government to update international rules on surveillance, response, and detection for new and emerging diseases to avoid the lack of equity seen in the emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Australian government is undertaking a consultation process to assist reforms of international health regulations and a new international accord on pandemics.
AIID comprises leading health research groups the Doherty Institute, the Burnett Institute, and the University of Melbourne. It aims to increase the capacity in Australia and its region for the effective prevention of and response to infectious diseases.
October 18, 2023 | Australia, Climate | Share this update
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced Australia would provide AUD68 million (US$43 million) to assist Fiji in its economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic and help the nation boost economic growth.
Fiji’s economy has faced challenging economic fallout from the effect of COVID-19 on the tourism industry.
Albanese met with Fijian Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka in Canberra. They noted the existential challenge posed to the Pacific region by climate change, especially with rising sea levels. Rabuka noted that the Pacific island countries ought to accept what he described as realistic timetables for industrialized countries, including Australia, to phase out fossil fuel production and use.
October 10, 2023 | Australia, Gender Equality, Family Planning, Global Health | Share this update
On October 10, 2023, the heads of the NGOs International Women’s Development Agency, Children by Choice, and Ipas called on the Australian government to ensure that its support of SRHR access includes access to abortion.
DFAT has invested in SRHR programs in 22 countries in the Indo-Pacific region and is currently developing a new Australian new gender equality policy. The NGO heads called on DFAT to prioritize abortion access as a component of a broader approach to ensuring gender equality. They asserted that Australia has long been a champion of SRHR access in multilateral agreements and needs to maintain this support in the face of recent international backlash against access to abortion.
All Australian states and territories have decriminalized abortion and removed barriers to abortion services.
October 5, 2023 | Australia, Climate | Share this update
On October 5, 2023, Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs Penny Wong indicated that Australia would move to rejoin the GCF, with a modest contribution to the fund to be announced by the end of 2023.
Australia recognized the GCF as a major global climate finance fund and announced plans to work with partners to improve the effectiveness of the GCF. Australia’s previous Conservative government withdrew from GCF membership in 2018, citing governance concerns. Prior to the withdrawal, Australia had contributed AUD200 million (US$65 million) to the GCF.
The Australian government considered feedback from regional Pacific partners when deciding how to provide climate assistance. Wong noted that Australia would also continue to provide direct support to Pacific Island countries to building climate resilience and support a transition to renewable energy.
US$ amounts are cited directly from sources; in the absence of an official conversion, they are calculated using the previous week's average of the US Federal Reserve's daily exchange rates.
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