Australia's Budget must leave no child behind

CANBERRA, 9 May 2017 – UNICEF Australia welcomes aspects of tonight’s Federal Budget, however there are also some concerning elements which need to be addressed.
 
“The most important investment any government can make in Australia’s future is through its children.  UNICEF Australia is encouraging all governments to publish a child impact statement to increase the transparency around what investments are being made in children and how tax payer dollars are being spent,” said Nicole Breeze, Director of Policy and Advocacy at UNICEF Australia.
                                                                                                                                                        
“In the absence of such a statement, UNICEF Australia has conducted our own analysis. The Government has allocated $75 billion to child focussed expenditure.  This is 16.2% of overall Federal expenditure and is up from $73 billion last financial year.  With 730,000 Australian currently living below the poverty line, these investments must be targeted to reduce the widening child inequality gap in Australia.”
 
There are three key areas that UA has paid attention to in tonight’s budget:
 
1.  Education - we welcome the investment being made to strengthen the education system with the Gonski 2.0 announcement.  $18.6 billion is a substantial commitment over the next decade.  The fact that it seeks to target those students most in need and most at risk of falling behind is a positive step.  Reforms to the education system cannot wait.  UNICEF Australia would have liked to have seen some more front-loading of that expenditure into tonight’s budget, however the trajectory of this spending is strong. 

2.  Early Childhood Development – UNICEF Australia welcomes the totality of investments being made, however we remain concerned that the policy settings fail to guarantee 20 hours of universal access to childcare for all children, which is internationally recognised as best practice. The Government is also failing to remove some of the barriers to access for the most disadvantaged families, including for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families. 

3.  Australian Aid - Australia’s foreign aid budget has been increased by $84 million, slightly more than CPI. This is a welcome reprieve in the context of the last three years, which have seen aggressive cuts. Humanitarian needs are greater than ever and it is imperative that the Australian Aid budget is rebuilt. In contrast, the Government is faltering.  Tonight’s budget reveals that $303 million of savings will be made over three years from 2018/19 at the expense of some of the world’s poorest children. 

UNICEF Australia will be focusing on these key areas with more commentary in coming days.
 
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For further information and interviews, please contact:

Nicole Mackey, UNICEF Australia, 0403 964 334, nmackey@unicef.org.au
 
About UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work 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.