Safeguarding the interests of vulnerable people is a key priority of the Australian Government. Development activities—such as the building of economic or social infrastructure and the establishment of conservation areas—sometimes require the use of land that local communities already occupy or use. When these communities are required to move, or when their access to land is restricted, it is known as displacement.
Development has the potential to benefit everyone, but where physical or economic displacement occurs as a result of development activity, it may lead to long-term hardship and impoverishment if not addressed. Resettlement is a process that helps people build new lives in a different location while mitigating the effects of displacement on their standard of living. When done well, resettlement can ensure that displaced communities share the benefits of development and vulnerable groups improve their living standards.
We aim to:
- avoid displacement and resettlement wherever possible by considering all viable alternative activities or design options
- minimise, mitigate or compensate for adverse project impacts on those affected where such impacts cannot be avoided
- enhance, or at least restore, the livelihoods of affected people relative to pre-project levels, and improve standards of living for displaced poor and other vulnerable groups.
Our objectives, requirements and principles are outlined in Displacement and Resettlement of People in Development Activities.
Australia works with a range of partners, including partner governments and multilateral development banks, which have different roles and responsibilities.
Our approach reflects a commitment to align with the Involuntary Resettlement policies of the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank and, thus reduce the burden of multiple donor requirements on partner governments.
Guidelines for activity managers
For more information on this guidance, or other issues related to displacement and resettlement, please email us