What would make the federal budget fair for children in Australia?

SYDNEY, Thursday 3 May 2018:  In this year’s federal budget, UNICEF Australia wants to see the Australian government make concrete financial investments that ensure children in this country, particularly those most disadvantaged, grow up with fair life chances. The government should also take tangible steps to include children and young people in the development of national policies and initiatives that affect them.
“We understand that at first glance, the average person might be surprised to hear children and the federal budget in the same sentence,” said Director of Policy and Advocacy, Amy Lamoin. “But when you tease it out, the reality is that many budgetary and political decisions have significant impacts on children and young people – and if they don’t, they should. As news headlines in our country continue to show, we need to be vigilant in supporting and protecting children and young people in Australia.”
UNICEF Australia says there are five commitments the government should make through this year’s federal budget that will significantly assist in delivering a fair chance for children and young people nationwide. The government should:
  1. articulate it’s investment for children by delivering a national Children’s Budget Statement
  2. allocate funding to support a national representative body for young Australians
  3. fund six key commitments that will form a comprehensive plan to end violence against children
  4. fund measurement, tracking and reduction strategies on poverty to drive a national program to end child poverty in Australia
  5. lead in international development by restoring Australia’s contribution to foreign aid and investing in children in our region. 
“The bottom line is we need budget decisions that mean decision-makers are not guessing what is important for children, or guessing where we need to be spending our money to invest in our children and young people so that they have a fair chance at leading healthy and productive lives,” Ms Lamoin said.
With close to five million children in Australia, she said we should have a very clear picture of how the federal budget impacts on them and their families. This means providing a transparent Children’s Budget Statement that examines, assesses and evaluates the effectiveness, efficiency and equity of programs, ministries and agencies that allocate resources to welfare, health and education programs.
Ms Lamoin said a funded youth peak body would represent young Australians to government and represent their best interests; provide quality, youth informed policy advice; and support policy and decision-makers to consult and engage with young people. An estimated budget contribution of $600,000 would cover operating costs and four staff members.
She said abuse of young people and children, including physical and sexual abuse and bullying continued to be prevalent in Australia. The six commitments to end violence against children would address: reforming laws, (particularly in relation to the recommendations of two recent Royal Commissions); management of public hotspots for violence; responsiveness of our social welfare and protection systems; ensuring out therapeutic responses and support services are child-centred, and; ensuring our investments in children’s education and violence prevention programs are successful and effective.
Ms Lamoin said Australia’s approach to ending poverty among children and young people needs to be strategic if it is to be sustainable and effective. This means measuring and tracking the number of children facing the multi-dimensional aspects of child poverty, setting targets and identifying special measures.
Australia’s foreign aid contribution should be restored to previous levels of $5.5 billion within the current Parliamentary term in recognition that foreign aid helps our child neighbours grow up healthy and educated.
UNICEF Australia’s full 2018 Federal Budget platform and recommendations are available online at https://www.unicef.org.au/our-work/unicef-in-australia/policy/federal-budget-2018
For more information, please contact:
Brinsley Marlay, UNICEF Australia, 0403 604 182, bmarlay@unicef.org.au