Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)

Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)

The Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is the Australian Government agency responsible for managing Australia's overseas aid programme.

DFAT has supported VSO programmes in Asia and Africa for more than two decades. 

In 2013 the agency responsible for handling Australia’s development aid programme, AusAid, was disbanded and their roles and responsibilities were absorbed within the DFAT structure. The AUS$5 billion of development funding made available by DFAT is allocated to the following sectors in 2014/15:

  •    Education 23%
  •    Governance 18%
  •    Health 16%
  •    Resilience 14%
  •    Infrastructure &trade 13%
  •    General development support 9%
  •    Agriculture 7%

DFAT has supported VSO programmes in Asia and Africa for more than two decades. While the focus of support is increasingly shifting to the Indo-Pacific region (target of 92% of spend there from 2014/15), VSO recently secured funding in Tanzania for the Local Enterprise & Linkages Development Project. This 2 year project will support SME development in three mineral rich regions of Tanzania. The aim is to build the technical and management capacity of local firms to enable them to actively participate in extractive industry value chains.

In the Asia Pacific region, DFAT has been the main donor funding our work in Papua New Guinea, either directly or as a back-donor supporting the PNG Government. Our DFAT-funded activities focus on the education and health sectors.

In early 2015, VSO signed a contract with DFAT to establish a national program of nurse education using volunteer nurse trainers working through the main medical teaching facilities to build the capacity of the next cadre of nursing graduates.

In education, DFAT support is vital to our work with PNG Department of Education which covers in-service teacher training and curriculum development. A particularly innovative project was SMS Story which used a simple text message based methodology to support early grade teachers by providing daily lesson plans. The project demonstrated significant improvements by students in four of the five key learning areas and did so at a fraction of the cost of other interventions.