Today, Save the Children will front a Parliamentary Inquiry into the implications of COVID-19 for Australia’s foreign affairs, defence and trade to call for the development of a ‘Pacific JobKeeper’.
Economic devastation is being experienced across the Pacific, with the pandemic expected to push a significant proportion of the population into poverty. This will have dire consequences for the most vulnerable in the community – children.
Mat Tinkler, Deputy CEO of Save the Children, will call on the Australian Government to do more to support our Pacific friends by helping to create a stronger economic and social protection system.
“We recently surveyed children around the world to ask them and their families about the impact of COVID-19 – in the Pacific, 77 per cent of parents told us they recently had trouble paying for food and 40 per cent said they recently lost income due to the pandemic,” Mr Tinkler said.
“The lack of a functioning social protection system in most countries in the Pacific is a serious barrier to providing the kind of household payments necessary for families to weather this storm.
“Australia and the Pacific should look to create a social protection system which reaches the poorest children and families not engaged in formal employment sector – the vast majority.
“Strong intervention by the Australia Government will save lives and livelihoods among our neighbours.”
Early estimates indicate the number of people living in extreme poverty in the four poorest Pacific countries will increase to 30 per cent in Papua New Guinea, 27 per cent in the Solomon Islands and 17 per cent in Vanuatu.