The government’s confirmation of funding for key election commitments is warmly welcomed, but significantly more needs to be done to support children in Australia and globally from the threats of compounding crises, said Save the Children.
The charity recognises that this 2022-2023 federal budget has confirmed many of the government’s significant election commitments both domestically and abroad.
“The investment of over $1 billion in additional spending in the Pacific and Southeast Asia is a significant and positive step that shows Labor is serious about restoring Australia’s role as a trusted development partner in the region, and will help support the significant needs of children who currently face multiple ongoing crises,” said Save the Children CEO Mat Tinkler.
“We know Australia has incredible capacity to support much needed social infrastructure systems in the Pacific and South-East Asia to better the lives of children in the region, especially given our relationship and proximity.”
However, Australia’s leading child rights agency has long called for a significant increase in humanitarian funding, and the budget critically misses an opportunity to support a meaningful increase in addressing the growing need driven by COVID, conflict and the climate crisis.
“Despite a devastating increase in the number and severity of crises, Australia in this budget, has not met its “fair share” of humanitarian funding.”
Global Hunger Crisis:
Globally, almost 50 million people are living in emergency or catastrophic levels of acute hunger, with at least 13.6 million children under 5 suffering from severe acute malnutrition. 1 in 5 deaths among children under the age of 5 is attributed to severe acute malnutrition.
Save the Children is part of the sector’s Help Fight Famine campaign and is calling on the government to urgently commit $150 million in new humanitarian funding to target hunger hotspots. The sector is also calling for $200 million to be committed annually over three years to help address global hunger, including through contributing to the development of a long-term strategy to address the root causes of food insecurity worldwide.
“50 million people in 45 countries are teetering on the edge of famine, and tens of thousands of children could starve to death, while many more will suffer irreversible, life-long damage due to malnutrition.”
“This budget is a missed opportunity for Australia to step up and help avert this unfolding catastrophe, and time is running out.”
As children and families in Australia’s east coast are bracing for further flooding over coming days, children have once again had their lives disrupted by ongoing climate-driven disasters.
The impact of more frequent and more severe climate-fuelled disasters, like flooding, can have long-lasting impacts on a child’s wellbeing and resilience.
Save the Children welcomes the government’s $3 billion dollar commitment to disaster recovery efforts and the announcement of $200 million a year in disaster prevention and resilience through the Disaster Ready Fund.
“Ongoing recovery support for children and families in Australia and the region is critical, especially given the increase in climate-related disasters like the current flooding crisis impacting the country’s east coast.”
“Children are once again forced to flee their homes and miss school in Australia due to the threat of flooding, we urge the Government to ensure the unique needs of children in emergencies are met.”
“Children will continue to experience displacement and disruption to their everyday lives, which we know can have long term impacts to their health, wellbeing and access to education.”
While the government’s recognition of the need for robust disaster recovery is positive, the threat of the climate crisis and the increasing frequency of climate-driven disasters should push the government away from fossil fuels.
“Ending fossil fuel subsidies and redirecting that money funds towards protecting children from the climate crisis, including towards climate finance, would truly demonstrate a commitment to stronger climate action.”
“We also encourage the government to restore Australia’s commitment to the Green Climate Fund, the UN mandated fund designed to support developing countries mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change. Like children, developing countries have done the least to contribute climate change but are most impacted by its devastating consequences, especially in the Pacific.
Save the Children has been calling for a child focused national recovery plan, to help address the significant impact COVID-19 has had on children’s lives over the past few years.
The charity welcomes the government’s commitment of $203.7 million over two years from 2022–23 to provide a funding boost to every Australian school to help address the adverse impacts of COVID-19 on student wellbeing.
“Children have been undeniably impacted by the COVID-19 crisis and this commitment goes some way to building back children’s wellbeing and resilience.”
Save the Children also welcomes the significant spending commitments aimed at ending domestic violence against women and children. The budget outlines $1.7 billion towards measures to reduce and end domestic violence.
“Domestic and family violence damages children’s health, wellbeing, learning and development. It undermines the most fundamental foundations for a child’s life.”
“We welcome the financial commitment in the budget towards ending violence against women and children as well as measures protecting victim/survivors.”
Save the Children welcomes the Government’s commitments to introduce wellbeing measures in future budgets and looks forward to the release of a new stand-alone ‘Measuring What Matters Statement’ tailored to Australia.
“We look forward to continuing to share our ideas about children’s well-being with the Government and hope to see more child-focused wellbeing measures in the upcoming release”, Mr Tinkler said.
MEDIA CONTACT: Mala Darmadi on 0425562113 or firstname.lastname@example.org.