Save the Children welcomes the 2023-24 Federal Budget measures to tackle entrenched disadvantage and support Australian families struggling with cost-of-living pressures, but is concerned that targeted support for children to recover from years of compounding crises was notably absent.
The charity is particularly supportive of $199.8 million in funding to address entrenched community disadvantage by promoting philanthropy and social impact investment, in line with Save the Children’s own approach to tackling urgent problems facing children through its Impact Investment Fund.
Save the Children also welcomes the critical funding that will be delivered to extend the Single Parenting Payment, the new investment in Medicare and significant cost-of-living relief measures, which are important steps to support the nation’s most vulnerable.
Missing from the budget, however, was any significant new funding to address the youth mental health crisis or address education needs, which could have significant long-term consequences for children.
“Less than a week ago, the World Health Organisation declared that the Covid-19 pandemic is no longer a global emergency, but this does not mean we can turn a blind eye to the significant impacts the pandemic has had on Australian children, along with the successive climate-fuelled disasters of recent years,” said Save the Children CEO Mat Tinkler.
“While this budget will provide welcome support for families facing the brunt of the cost-of-living crisis, it has fallen short of delivering the tailored support children need to build back their resilience following years of compounding crises.”
Save the Children welcomes the $590 million commitment to end violence against women and children and calls on the government to extend these efforts beyond Australia’s borders by investing $65.22 million over three years to ending violence against children in the Pacific.
Focusing on our global priorities, the charity acknowledges that the government has delivered on its promise to increase foreign aid since taking office, particularly in a challenging fiscal environment.
“The government has put in the hard work to rebuild the aid budget, which is great to see along with its clear commitment to supporting our Pacific neighbours through a wide-ranging package of assistance,” Mr Tinkler said.
“While the commitment to increase foreign aid is welcome, it doesn’t reflect the extraordinary and growing needs of children in the region and beyond.
“It is disappointing that humanitarian funding overall has remained stagnant despite being in an era of unprecedented need globally, with a record high of 339 million people now in need of humanitarian assistance, up from 274 million in early 2022.”
In its submission to the 2023-24 Budget, Save the Children called on the government to increase funding to promote wellbeing among children and address school disengagement in Australia, invest in safety net programs to support vulnerable families in the Pacific, and increase Australia’s climate finance commitment and humanitarian funding allocation, including dedicated funding to hunger hot spots around the world, such as the Horn of Africa and Yemen.
With no new substantive funding to tackle the climate crisis, Save the Children reiterates its calls for the government to increase Australia’s climate finance commitment to $3 billion over the 2020-2025 period, commit an additional $400 million to the Green Climate Fund by 2024, allocate $100 million to support loss and damage financing and end fossil fuel subsidies.
“Perhaps nowhere in the world is at a greater risk from the climate crisis than the Pacific and so if Australia is serious about stepping up its support for the region, then stronger climate action must be on the table,” Mr Tinkler said.
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NOTES TO EDITORS:
Key recommendations from Save the Children’s submission to the 2023-24 Federal Budget:
Contribute $14.6 million over four years to engage children at risk of disengaging from school.
Provide $7.05 million over two years to provide school-based wellbeing support in flood-affected communities across South East Queensland and the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales.
Implement systemic reforms needed to set up the longer-term success of Australia’s social and economic trajectory by making children a national policy priority.
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.
Invest $65.22 million over three years in ending violence against children in the Pacific.
Increase Australia’s climate finance commitment to $3bn over 2020-2025, commit an additional $500 million to the Green Climate Fund by 2024 and allocate $100 million to support loss and damage financing.
Increase Australia’s humanitarian funding allocation to $1.5 billion in response to increased and intensified need, and more complex emergencies.
Additional funding for humanitarian resettlement, repatriation of Australians from Syria and Education Cannot Wait replenishment.