As the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects sweep the globe, the safety and wellbeing of children must be a central concern says Save the Children Australia.
The best interests of children is driving Save the Children’s response to Covid-19, together with the safety and wellbeing of our staff to ensure continuity of service for the most vulnerable in our community.
The leading child rights organisation is urging authorities to ensure children are at the core of global, national and local responses to protect them from immediate and long-term harm.
Save the Children’s work in Australia, the Pacific and around the world is focused on three priorities –
- Preventing the spread of disease by promoting hand washing and hygiene, distributing soap and hand sanitiser to children and communities that need it. This includes supporting preparedness activities in the Pacific to protect vulnerable communities.
- Keeping ‘eyes on the child’ because not all children are safe at home. Isolation makes some vulnerable children more susceptible to harm so we’re rapidly adapting our services to keep children safe.
- Maintaining a connection to education because children may be lost from the school system forever if we don’t work hard to provide continuity of learning. School’s formality, routine and teaching staff is often crucial to the safety and wellbeing of children.
During this unprecedented global event, Save the Children Australia will maintain a focus on its guiding mission: to ensure that all children survive, learn and are protected from harm, whether they be here in Australia or overseas.
Everything we do now to prevent the spread of this virus and reassure communities will benefit children. Save the Children is promoting hand washing and hygiene, distributing soap and hand sanitiser to children and communities that need it.
We are actively monitoring advice from authorities and taking rapid action as required. As a result, we have ceased face-to-face service delivery in a number of sites at the request of partners, schools and government bodies.
Frontline and support staff across Australia are putting measures in place to mitigate the risk to children and their families and to ensure, where possible, that our services can continue.
Save the Children works with the most vulnerable children in our society and keeping ‘eyes on the child’ is critical to their wellbeing and safety.
From this week in Australia, we will shift to alternative modes of delivery for many of our community-based services. This will involve the use of virtual platforms and alternatives to face-to-face engagement.
Alternative education platforms are being trialled and implemented across our programs to provide continuity of learning to vulnerable children. In Australia, programs like Hands on Learning, which works with children already at risk of dropping out of school, is utilising technology to maintain a connection to education for at risk children.
Internationally, there are approximately 1.2 billion children out of school already as a result of coronavirus. We have seen school closures including in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia and parts of the Philippines, a development with a range of immediate and longer-term impacts for children.
Emergencies like the one we’re experiencing, render the most vulnerable children even more so. Those living in poverty, displaced through war, drought or disaster are often already on the precipice and so are at risk of even greater harm.
In almost every country, we are working with our beneficiaries, implementing partners, institutional donors and governments (Australian and host nation) to determine how we can best continue to support vulnerable communities.
Save the Children Australia is providing support to help ensure the preparedness of vulnerable communities in Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Fiji.
While this is unchartered territory for everyone, we have the history, reach and expertise to help ensure that children and their families are protected and supported throughout this difficult time.
Save the Children Australia is part of a global organisation with over 100 years of experience in responding to crisis in Australia and overseas. It’s in our DNA.
Our priority, as always, is the safety and wellbeing of the children and families who rely on our programs, the safety and wellbeing of our people and a commitment, wherever possible, to continue to deliver our services despite the unavoidable and unprecedented disruption.