The Federal Budget provides the Australian Government with the opportunity to deliver for children and young people by investing in their wellbeing and development, Save the Children said today.
In Australia and across the region, the lasting impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have fallen disproportionately on poorer households, making it more difficult for them to invest in their children and their wellbeing.
Domestically, cost-of-living pressures are impacting many households and families and adding further stress, which has knock-on effects for the emotional and physical wellbeing of children and young people.
When children are unable to access the material basics such as food, shelter, clothing and transport, their most fundamental needs are undermined. With the compounding effects of the pandemic, increasing climate disasters and the current state of the economy, the limits of children’s resilience are being pushed.
Dante, 21, a university student and a member of Save the Children’s Youth Advisory Board, said they would like to see the government invest in more significant mental health support for children and young people.
“The government needs to address the lingering trauma from the pandemic because right now we [young people] are really struggling,” they said.
Save the Children CEO Mat Tinkler said the government should not ignore the links between the cost-of-living crisis and children’s wellbeing, adding that both critical issues should be addressed in the Budget.
“In just the past few years, children and young people across Australia have faced multiple crises including the ongoing mental health fallout from the pandemic, the increase in climate-fuelled disasters, and now a worsening cost-of-living crisis,” he said.
“As the Budget is handed down, we urge the Government to take stock of the measures they have put in place and assess whether they are going far enough to address the deep wellbeing needs of young Australians.
“Children and young people cannot be left behind in this Budget. We must invest in their wellbeing, as well as addressing the cost-of-living crisis, because by investing in them, we are investing in the future of our nation.”
Save the Children is urging the Albanese Government to deliver tangible wellbeing support for children in Australia in the 2023-2024 Budget. Children have been under significant pressure in recent years and this has led to a growing mental health crisis among children and young people, while also impacting other aspects of their lives including their access to education and development.
The leading child rights organisation is calling on the government to increase investment to promote wellbeing and address school disengagement. Save the Children is seeking a $14.6 million investment over four years for its Hands on Learning program, and $7.05 million over two years to provide school-based wellbeing support in flood-affected communities across Southeast Queensland and Northern Rivers NSW.
The Federal Budget is also an opportunity for Australia to further increase support the countries in the Indo-Pacific and invest in the wellbeing of children and their communities in the region.
“Pacific households will not recover from the health, economic, and educational impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and climate-induced disasters based on grit and resilience alone,” said Mr Tinkler.
“While the Australian Government has a responsibility for the welfare of the nation, it has also acknowledged the responsibility it has as a neighbour and partner in the Pacific, which includes the welfare of children and communities.”
“We welcome reports that the Budget will include a wide-ranging Pacific assistance package, but this package must include additional aid funding if it is to make a material difference to the lives of children and their families.”
Save the Children is also calling on the Australian government to invest $77.3 million over three years to establish pilot child benefit payments, child disability benefit payments, and adult disability benefit payments in the Pacific.
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