Dividends paid out by Australian companies fell to US$2.8 billion in the first quarter of 2016 on a headline basis, down 49.8 per cent, according to Henderson Global Investors.
The Henderson Global Dividend Index found that a number of 'one-off' events exaggerated the fall in Australian dividends in the first quarter.
The biggest contributor to the fall was BHP Billiton, which cut more than US$2 billion from its dividend payment, said the report.
Woodside Petroleum also "exacerbated" the plunge in Australian dividends by moving its payment to the second quarter of 2016.
On an underlying basis, Australian dividends were down 29.7 per cent.
Globally, dividends fared much better, rising 2.2 per cent to US$218.4 billion in the first quarter of 2016, according to the report – an increase of US$4.7 billion year-on-year.
"Japan, North America, and Europe led the way, while Australia, the UK, and emerging markets lagged behind," said the report.
"Exchange rates have been much more stable recently and so made a much smaller impact when translating global dividends into US dollars.
"On an underlying basis, which adjusts for exchange rate movements, timing effects, one-off special dividends, and index changes, growth was 3.1 per cent," said the report.
Looking forward to the rest of 2016, Henderson said it expects global dividends to rise 3.9 per cent to $1.18 trillion in 2016 – an underlying increase of 3.3 per cent.