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New International Development Policy promising framework, strategy for children must come next

New policy highlights collective challenges in the region, but rights and wellbeing of children not adequately recognised.
08 August 2023

Leading child rights organisation Save the Children welcomes Australia’s eagerly awaited International Development Policy as a strong policy framework that defines Australia’s ambition as a concerned global citizen to tackle poverty and inequality in our region, however, calls on the government to ensure more is done specifically for the region’s children.

Designed to guide Australia’s development agenda until at least 2030, ensuring Australia can meet its commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals, the new development policy framework appropriately highlights the key areas of concern in the Indo-Pacific region including its repeated focus on gender inequality and climate as some of the greatest contributors to the region’s shared challenges.

Save the Children welcomes the clear acknowledgement of the undeniable risk poverty, insecurity, and inequality has on communities in the region and the urgent need to address these challenges to achieve a prosperous and peaceful Indo-Pacific.

The commitment towards a more transparent and accountable development program is also a positive step forward, as is the commitment to a First Peoples approach, in line with principles of self-determination.

However, the new policy fails to sufficiently consider the rights and perspectives of children and is a missed opportunity in creating a meaningful framework for the region’s youth.

Save the Children CEO Mat Tinkler described the new policy as a 'great start' but emphasised the need for Australia to strengthen its role within the region by delivering on its promises.

“Australia is in the privileged position of being an influential partner in the Indo-Pacific region, this new policy outlines some key measures in tackling shared challenges and is a very welcome statement of Australia’s commitment to sound development principles. Given the significant investments in Australia’s defence, it is critical that Australia elevates International Development as an equal partner, alongside trade and diplomacy, to advance the sustainable progress of our neighbours,” said Mr Tinkler. 

“In our work with children and families across hundreds of communities in the Pacific, we see daily experiences of hardship, poverty and inequality that leads to children missing out on the opportunity to meet their potential. No amount of expenditure on submarines can solve these challenges. 

“This new policy is a missed opportunity to outline a coherent strategy for children and young people.

“The multiple challenges our region is facing presents a disproportionate threat to children’s rights and wellbeing. Children and young people will bear the brunt of any decisions we do or don’t make now so their voices must be heard, and their rights must be prioritised. 

“We welcome the new policy’s focus on addressing the needs of the many communities in the Indo-Pacific and its commitments around climate and gender equality, but we call on the government to utilise the new framework as the basis for investing in the future of the region by investing in children.”

To address this, Save the Children calls on the government to recognise the unique and disproportionate threat to the rights of children in the region, and establish a child rights policy that aligns with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“Australia’s investment in children and young people in the region must be clear, targeted, and measurable, but it should also be fearless and ambitious,” said Mr Tinkler.

“The government has the opportunity to set the foundation for a strong vision in the Pacific and the broader region, but it cannot be done without active consultation and engagement with young people.”

"We look forward to engaging with the development of a new stand-alone humanitarian strategy in an increasingly challenging time of conflict and hunger facing children.

“To ensure a strong and resilient region, children and young people must be at the heart of policy and decision-making, and their engagement included in program design, delivery and evaluation.” 

Save the Children has a wide Indo-Pacific footprint and a more than 100- year history of working to protect children and advance children’s rights all around the world.


MEDIA CONTACT: Mala Darmadi on 0425562113 or Joshua Mcdonald on 0478 010 972 or


Save the Children’s full submission to the Federal Government’s Development Policy Review can be accessed here as well as the organisation’s submission to the Development Finance Review and the 2023-24 Budget Submission.

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