Forget winners and losers: children and young people are barely mentioned in this budget

SYDNEY, Wednesday 8 May 2018:  The Australian Government’s 2018 federal budget has not directly responded to the issues that face the almost five million children living in Australia today.

“UNICEF Australia recently called for a national children’s budget statement which will provide a clear picture of how the federal budget impacts on them and their families,” said UNICEF Australia Director of Policy and Advocacy, Amy Lamoin. “This budget has not clearly articulated its investment in children and young people – at best, children have a passing mention.”

“We shouldn’t be left guessing about the detail in budget announcements that apply to vulnerable children and their families, particularly when we are talking about measures that will address, for example, the very real issues faced by the almost one in six children living in poverty.”

A budget should set both firm economic and social direction for a nation. In this case, it is hard to see that it has set either for children and young people.

“Young people, in particular, face the sharp realities of uncertain employment, low housing affordability and high costs of living into the future.”

Ms Lamoin said one of the most powerful ways to ensure that the needs of children and young people are met by government policy was through quality consultation. UNICEF Australia’s budget statement explains this can be achieved by ensuring that a fully funded national representative or ‘peak’ body for children and young people is in place. She said UNICEF had modelled the funding for such an organization. It would require an estimated $600,000 annually to provide for operating costs and four staff members.

“Just as other sectors of our community communicate and negotiate with government through their own representative bodies, so too should children and young people – otherwise their concerns will continue to be shut out of government consideration.”

Ms Lamoin also said the simply reality is that the freeze on foreign aid funding would, in effect, be a reduction over the coming years as CPI increased. That has a real impact on children and families in our region.

“With the issues facing our region in terms of forced migration, poverty and climate change, we most definitely need to return our foreign aid provisions to previous levels of at least $5.5 billion."

She said that while the convention at budget time has traditionally been to classify winners and losers, this time round, children and young people have been virtually omitted.

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UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.
 
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For more information, please contact:

Brinsley Marlay, UNICEF Australia, 0403 604 182, bmarlay@unicef.org.au