Why is UNICEF Australia reporting on the drought?
The severity of the drought in inland eastern parts of Australia is undeniable and continuing, despite the rainfall experienced by our coastal communities. Australia's drought-affected communities are experiencing extreme long-term rainfall deficits and all indications are suggesting this natural disaster will continue for the foreseeable future.
Our decision to conduct consultations with primary and high school students and their communities was driven by UNICEF's global approach which is, to listen to children and involve them in problem solving.
The chief purpose of this report is to encourage government stakeholders to listen to and consult with these children and young people who are living with drought, and in doing so, to protect them and take action to strengthen the broader drought response.
What are some of the key findings?
- Children and young people told UNICEF Australia that they are struggling under significant pressures. They are not receiving the support they need to alleviate some of the worst effects of the drought.
- Some children feel like they have had to grow up up prematurely. Many described the reality of having responsibilities beyond what is reasonable for their age.
- Workloads for children on and off farms have increased substantially, leaving little time for schoolwork and almost no time for play, sport or other recreational activities. Children and young people described their days as long and stressful.
- The longer the drought progresses, the more diminished children and young people's coping reserves will become.
- Children spoke about not wanting to burden their families by talking about their feelings and struggles and teachers spoke of the ongoing stigma associated with recognising and seeking specialised help.
- While a number of measures exist to support relief for families, there are few child and youth specific interventions.