UNICEF: Budget must prioritise education for all children as inequality gap widens

New Report Card shows Australian children are falling further behind in education and health
 
SYDNEY, 2 May 2016 – Ahead of the Federal Budget announcement tomorrow night, UNICEF’s new report Fairness for Children: A league table of inequality in child well-being in rich countries highlights how some Australian children are falling too far behind against key international measures in education and health.

The report ranks 41 EU and OECD countries according to how far children at the bottom of the distribution fall below their peers in the middle. The starkest findings in the report are Australia’s position on health and education, with inequality indicators putting Australia at 27 out of 35 for health and 24 out of 37 for education.

UNICEF Australia’s CEO Adrian Graham said, “The results are clear: Australia must invest in children’s education and health to ensure that no child is left behind and that every child’s rights to a fair and prosperous future are given the best chance, no matter who they are or where they are.”

The gap between rich and poor is at its highest level in three decades in most OECD countries. In Australia, poverty is on the rise, with an estimated 2.5 million Australians living below the poverty line, including more than 600,000 children.

“Education is not merely an election platform, the future of Australia’s poorest and most vulnerable children is at stake,” said Graham. “Investing in Australia’s children is not just the smart thing to do, it’s critical for our country’s prosperity especially as we look to the future of innovation, technology and industry.”

“With cuts of $224 million forecast to international aid, bringing Australia’s contribution to its lowest-ever level, and with more than a billion dollars being spent on the detention of children and families on Nauru, the question must be asked: is Australia prioritising the rights and needs of children not only in Australia, but in our region?”

Globally, the most disadvantaged in society are falling further away from the promise of a decent life.

“UNICEF’s Fairness for Children report asks challenging questions for policy makers about how best to address the needs of our most vulnerable. Australia must place equality at the heart of our child well-being agendas and make sound policy choices to ensure the best future for all children.”

“Over the next Parliamentary term, there is an opportunity for the elected government to restore investment and rebuild Australia’s aid program to support those in greatest need and to restore Australia’s standing as a good international citizen,” said Graham.

-ENDS-

Download the full report: http://www.unicef-irc.org
Download press-kit and multi-media materials: http://uni.cf/1NliymO

For further information and interviews with UNICEF spokespeople, please contact:
Nicole Mackey, nmackey@unicef.org.au; +61 403 964 334
Nicole Lawrence, nlawrence@unicef.org.au; +61 419 748 624
 
About UNICEF
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything it does. Together with its partners, UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. In Australia, UNICEF works with government and advocate bodies to defend children’s rights and support international development programs. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.
 
For more information about UNICEF Australia and its work visit: www.unicef.org.au
 
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About the UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti
The Office of Research – Innocenti is UNICEF’s dedicated research centre. It undertakes research on emerging or current issues in order to inform the strategic directions, policies and programmes of UNICEF and its partners, shape global debates on child rights and development, and inform the global research and policy agenda for all children, and particularly for the most vulnerable. Please visit: www.unicef-irc.org