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Back-to-School is Not Enough: Australian Parents and Children have their say on COVID Recovery Plan

With the support of the Paul Ramsay Foundation, Save the Children Australia surveyed 1,500 parents and more than 1,000 children about the impact of COVID-19 and what support they need to recover.
31 January 2022

New independent polling shows that a comprehensive national plan to support the recovery of children and young people from COVID is needed to deal with the range of impacts they have experienced due to the pandemic.
 
With the support of the Paul Ramsay Foundation, Save the Children Australia surveyed 1,500 parents and more than 1,000 children about the impact of COVID-19 and what support they need to recover.
 
The first Australian survey to include children’s views on the pandemic clearly shows the past two years have placed intense pressure on learning, social connections, mental health and wellbeing, with disadvantaged students hit the hardest.

  • 69% of children have experienced learning and development impacts. Higher in Victoria (84%) and NSW (82%).

  • 68% of parents reported their children being disengaged from education impacted by limited attendance at school.

  • 64% of children have experienced mental health and wellbeing impacts of COVID-19. Higher in Victoria (77%) and NSW (75%).

  • 56% of parents are worried about the long term effects of COVID-19 on their child, with this figure even higher among parents in Victoria, at 68%.

  • 60% of parents believe that Australia’s recovery from COVID impacts is reliant on kids' recovery to ensure a bright future for us all. Higher in NSW (66%).

 
A 13-18 year old surveyed said:

“Worrying all the time about passing on COVID to my dad and then being responsible for killing him.”
 
A parent surveyed said:

“My child showed lots of signs of anxiety after coming out of lockdown. Even people walking by in the park were enough to scare him.”
 
A 6-12 year old surveyed said:

“Mum and dad aren’t as patient as my teachers at school and they teach things differently.”
 
A parent surveyed said:

“Learning has been challenging and I am worried she has missed the fundamentals of the first year of schooling.”
 
The survey shows that only 17% of Australian parents surveyed believe governments have done enough, and more than 80% think the Federal Government has a responsibility to support children’s recovery from the pandemic. Of the measures parents want to help their children recover from the impacts of COVID:

  • 55% want support with getting kids active and back into sport participation (more for children 6-12 years old).

  • 55% want mental health and wellbeing support for children (families with disability, 67%).

  • 46% would like travel vouchers to help reconnect with their extended family.

  • 44% want support with tutoring and individual learning support (more in VIC, 52%, and families with disability, 62%).

  • Only 11% wanted religious/pastoral support through chaplains in schools.

Comment from Executive Director of Save the Children’s Australian Services, Matt Gardiner:

“Sending them back to school is not enough. Children, their parents and their teachers need more support.”
“We must listen to the voices of children and young people in the design of any COVID recovery plan.”

“Their experience is unique and their recovery – physically, mentally and socially – is critical.”

“We cannot afford for students to disengage further from school. This would create a disastrous ripple effect for children, communities and the economy.”

“Parents and their children have made it clear what support they need from governments to get back on track.”

“The evidence shows that dedicated, specialist support to build resilience and ensure children have the tools they need to recover from disasters are essential.”

“Save the Children is urging the Federal Government to deliver a comprehensive national COVID recovery plan for children and young people.”
 
ENDS
 
MEDIA CONTACT: Kimberley Gardiner on +61437 435 777 or media.team@savethechildren.org.au

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