Four key principles underpin UNICEF Australia’s recommended foreign policy approach:
- Putting children first in foreign policy decision making and identifying them as a stand-alone investment priority within Australia’s aid program;
- Orienting our foreign policy towards realising the Sustainable Development Goals on schedule;
- Increasing the proportion of Australia’s child-related Official Development Assistance;
- Prioritising equitable development growth. In an era of shifting alliances, growing protectionism and a potential retreat from a rules-based international order, it may be tempting to focus Australia’s foreign policy predominantly around security issues. However UNICEF Australia encourages the Australian Government to maintain robust international cooperation and continue contributing to relative predictability and stability through investments in children.
Strengthening the norms and standards that protect children, and subsequently contribute to ending violence against children, extreme poverty, preventable child deaths, gender inequality and discrimination all greatly benefit children, but they are also important for creating sustained and equitable long-run growth and for maintaining peace.
There are five key areas that are crucial for children and must be included in Australia’s new foreign policy:
1. Prioritising children in our aid program
Children must be prioritised in our aid program, by increasing the proportion of Official Development Assistance (ODA) allocated to them - by identifying children as a core priority area and also through funding that addresses child rights across all aspects of our aid program.
Children’s participation should be a driver and determinant of Australia’s aid effectiveness. The voices of children and young people have been invaluable in developing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and will be equally important to ground-up monitoring and accountability. Mechanisms should be developed in Australia and the region for youth participation in measuring progress on the SDGs.
Australia’s foreign policy strategy should also identify the significant data gaps for children and adolescents and address these so we have a more accurate picture of how best to support children in the region, particularly the most vulnerable and excluded.