UNICEF Australia welcomes tonight’s Federal Budget focus on the children and young people of Australia.
UNICEF Australia (UA) CEO Tony Stuart said the strong focus on targeting expenditure for children and young people, particularly through $1.6 billion funding for pre-school and early intervention in mental health, is to be commended.
“The most important investment any country can make is in its children,” Mr Stuart said.
“We know that prioritising education in the first five years of a child’s life is vital to setting them up for future health, growth and development. This funding certainty for universal access to pre-school for children in the year before they start school is a positive step towards the transition to provide free pre-school to children aged three.
“We commend the government for continuing its focus on children’s mental health and wellbeing at a time when children have experienced heightened stress due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This has been achieved by the drafting of the first child and mental health wellbeing strategy, which has been backed by tonight’s announcement, including $278 million towards support for those aged 12 to 25 and $100 million for early intervention programs for under-12s.
“UNICEF Australia has championed the best interests of children for many years, and we are buoyed by the potential this budget presents to support recovery from the pandemic.”
Among the significant social spending announced tonight UA also recognises:
Early education and childcare: The $1.7 billion in additional funding from July 2022 will allow greater access to affordable quality early education and childcare;
Employment: The extension of Job Trainer for 17-24 year-olds will play an important role in skilling and re-skilling young people to participate in the workforce. It will be important that this operates in isolation from Youth Allowance;
National recovery and resilience: The creation and $600 million funding of the National Recovery and Resilience Agency will provide much needed mental health and wellbeing support through schools in the aftermath of disasters such as bushfire and flood.
“Many children will benefit from these investments,” Mr Stuart said.
“We must also ensure that no child is left behind. We can do more to address inequality, especially for Indigenous children if Australia is to meet its commitments to close the gap.”