Investing in development programs that fund health, education and social protection in the Pacific will improve the safety and wellbeing of children.
Save the Children Australia Acting CEO Mat Tinkler said funding that helps build stronger communities will also help boost on Australia’s competitive advantage in the Pacific.
“Now, more than ever, it is crucial to support our Pacific neighbours who have suffered economic devastation during the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.
“It is heartening to see Labor’s pledge to direct substantial aid to the region over the next four years.
“However, these commitments should not come at the expense of vulnerable children facing conflict and crisis elsewhere in the world, such as in Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen and Ukraine.”
Save the Children urges the Coalition to outline plans for increased and ongoing development support for the Pacific ahead of the election.
“Whichever party ultimately forms government must ensure resources are invested to target the most vulnerable children and families in the Pacific over the long-term,” Mr Tinkler said.
“Any new initiatives should be developed and delivered in co-ordination with Pacific nations, who are best positioned to identify areas of greatest need.”
The establishment of a Pacific Climate Financing Partnership to support climate and clean energy projects would be welcome, if it includes a focus on improving the climate resilience of community infrastructure, such as schools and health facilities.
Greater support for climate infrastructure is overdue in a region highly exposed to the impacts of the climate crisis, as Pacific nations deal with rising sea levels and increasingly deadly cyclones.
Save the Children operates vital health, education and child protection services across the Pacific, reaching vulnerable children and their communities in Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Fiji and Vanuatu.
The leading child rights organisation is calling for Australia to:
- Invest in a multi-year recovery package for our Pacific neighbours, consisting of more grant finance and ultra-concessional loans.
- Invest $70.1 million over three years in programs to support Pacific children, such as pilot child benefit payments, child disability benefit payments, and adult disability benefit payments. Commit $58.09 million over three years to programs aimed at ending violence against children (EVAC).
- Increase Australia’s climate finance commitment to $3 billion over 2020-2025 and recommit to supporting the Green Climate Fund.
- Direct a substantial proportion of funds from the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific (AIFFP) into building social infrastructure, including health, education, and social protection systems.