The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has adopted a Partnerships for Recovery policy to assist Australia’s nearby neighbours minimise the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Announced by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Marise Payne and Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Alex Hawke, the policy redirects over $280 million from the existing overseas development program to support critical medical and humanitarian needs of Australia’s Pacific neighbours, Timor-Leste, and other partner countries in Southeast Asia.
“This is an unprecedented pivot of our development program,” Senator Payne said.
“In partnership with our neighbours, we are responding directly to their essential needs during this pandemic,” she said.
“In the Pacific, with Pacific Islands Forum partners, we have acted quickly and constructively to manage the threat of COVID-19.”
Senator Payne said Australia provided over 2.6 million items of personal protective equipment (PPE), strengthened COVID-19 testing capacity across the region, and provided advice on clinical management.
She said Australia was contributing to the Pacific Island Forum’s Humanitarian Pathway to ensure the continued supply of essential medical and testing equipment, critical personnel and essential supplies.
Mr Hawke said Australia’s response would save lives and jobs in a region that was highly dependent on connectivity.
“Australia has a reputation for delivering high-quality development assistance,” Mr Hawke said.
He said development programs had already been adapted to respond to the emerging needs of the COVID-19 pandemic.