Budget missed opportunity to invest in child focused recovery

Save the Children Australia has described the 2022-23 Federal Budget as a missed opportunity to deliver a child focused recovery.

In its submission to the 2022-23 Federal Budget, Save the Children highlighted the growing need and inequality arising due to COVID, conflict and the climate crisis.

“COVID, conflict and climate are driving a global and national crisis for children,” said acting CEO of Save the Children Australia, Mat Tinkler.

“This Budget was a massive, missed opportunity to deliver a child focused recovery.”

While the Budget includes some welcome measures, there is no coherent strategy for Australian children to build back stronger from the impacts of COVID-19 and no new funding to address the increasingly severe impacts of climate change nationally and globally.

We welcome the return of indexation to the aid budget and additional funding directed to addressing the health, economic and social impacts of COVID on countries in the Pacific and SE Asia. But Australia is still not doing nearly enough to support children devastated by conflict, COVID or the climate crisis in our region.

Climate Crisis

The 2022-23 Budget has failed to lift Australia’s commitment to global climate action beyond the underwhelming commitment made at COP26 in Glasgow last year.

“For children in Australia and the Pacific on the frontline of the climate emergency, this Budget is a massive let-down.”

“The Australian Government must step up to support communities on the frontline of irreversible climate change.”

Save the Children called for an increase to Australia’s climate finance commitment to $3 billion over 2020-25 and for an additional $400 million to be committed to the Green Climate Fund by 2023.

Save the Children welcomes the additional funding committed to the Black Summer Bushfire Recovery Response but remains concerned at the lack of investment in measures to specifically support children cope with the irreversible consequences of climate change in Australia.

“As children are once again forced to flee their homes 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 learning as a result of climate change, and we need to prepare them as best we can.”

Child Friendly Spaces in all evacuation and recovery centres would help to ensure the unique needs of children in emergencies are met in an increasingly volatile climate.

Conflict

Despite the escalating humanitarian crises being driven by conflict throughout the world, the 2022-23 Federal Budget fails to substantively increase funding for humanitarian aid.

“Every war is a war on children, and right now they are under attack in conflicts not of their making around the globe – from Ukraine to Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria and Myanmar.”

“Australia must play a greater role in addressing the humanitarian needs of children suffering in adult wars.”

Save the Children called for the humanitarian aid to be doubled from $500 million to $1.05 billion.

Save the Children also called for an additional 20,000 humanitarian visas to be made available for refugees from Afghanistan, and $100 million per year in life-saving aid.

“We welcome the commitment to an additional humanitarian intake of 16,500 Afghans announced in this Budget and urge the Government to commit at least $100m per year in life-saving aid at this week’s pledging conference for Afghanistan.”

COVID

The 2022-23 Budget fails to deliver a substantive increase to fund a coherent strategy for the recovery of Australian children from the pandemic.

“COVID-19 has placed unprecedented stress on Australian children, with wide-ranging and long-lasting effects without a comprehensive response.”

“The consequences for Australia’s economic recovery of underinvestment in the recovery of children and young people from the pandemic are ignored to our peril. Australia’s children need and deserve a coordinated and deliberate strategy to enable them to build back stronger from the devastating impacts of COVID.”

“Save the Children welcomes the Government’s commitment to the development of a national measure of student wellbeing, and nationally consistent mechanisms to manage mental health and wellbeing in schools.”

Save the Children called for the development of a ‘NAPLAN for wellbeing’ to ensure Australia was measuring student wellbeing and directing funding to where it was needed.

Save the Children welcomes the Government’s new commitment of $85 million to COVAX and $281 million support for the Pacific to help address the social and economic impacts of COVID.

There remains an urgent need to direct economic support to families in Pacific Island countries, to drive recovery, stability, and security in the region.

“As the 2022-23 Budget shows, cash payments to families play an important role in supporting economic recovery from the impacts of the pandemic.

“Cash payments to Pacific families would support local economies, regional stability and basics for children like food and education.”

Save the Children called for at least $65 million to be committed to social protection measures such as cash assistance in the Pacific.

Save the Children welcomes the boost to the lending capacity of the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific (AIFFP) from $1.5bn to $3bn and the intention to use those funds to strengthen health systems.

“Australia has incredible capacity to support much needed social infrastructure systems in the Pacific and South-East Asia.”

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