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7 October 2020

Wednesday 7 October – UNICEF Australia welcomes new financial commitments for Australia’s regional neighbours announced in last night’s budget, consistent with its Partnerships for Recovery strategy. The additional funding to support the most vulnerable communities will help to safeguard children’s futures and reimagine a better world after COVID-19.

“This additional support will be tremendously beneficial to Australia in its critical role to contain and suppress the COVID-19 pandemic in our region, while working to strengthen health systems for the long term,” said Tony Stuart, CEO of UNICEF Australia. “Strengthening support for vulnerable children in the Asia Pacific region is vital to Australia’s health security.”

Mr Stuart praised the $304.7 million of additional funds allocated in the budget to a COVID-19 Recovery Fund to help our nearest neighbours in the Pacific and Timor-Leste respond and recover from this pandemic. This funding will be essential in supporting the health, safety and economic opportunity of children, families, and communities.

The secondary impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic include delays to immunisation programs, domestic violence risks – particularly for women and girls – and an interruption to education for millions of children around the world.

“This pandemic has affected us all, but it has not affected us all equally. With many children and communities living in refugee camps unable to self isolate and those living in rural villages struggling to access medical assistance, we must step in to support the most vulnerable to ensure a fair chance for every child.” Mr Stuart said.

“Targeted responses are necessary to ensure that this unprecedented global crisis does not widen already existing inequalities”

UNICEF Australia also welcomes the Australian Government’s commitment to procure and deliver COVID-19 Vaccines to our partners in the Pacific, Timor-Leste and Southeast Asia.

“Facilitating early and equitable access to safe, effective and affordable vaccines will save lives and underpin Australia’s security by promoting regional stability and economic recovery,” Mr Stuart said. “If this crisis is to come to an end, the pandemic needs to be over for everyone.”

UNICEF will play a critical role in the procurement and supply of a COVID-19 vaccine and will work in partnership with the government and DFAT to ensure the most vulnerable communities are not forgotten.

Ensuring continued access to health and social protection services, quality education and employment opportunities are essential for children and young people, and their families. Additional and ongoing spending will therefore be critical to supporting younger generations through this crisis and equipping them to successfully manage the unprecedented challenges that lie ahead.

“Over the coming years, it is in the public interest that we see Australia’s overall Official Development Assistance increase, so that we can all maintain the hard-won development gains now at risk due to the pandemic.”