A New Nation-Building Commitment: Let’s #buildbackbettertogether for children and young people. NATION-BUILDING infrastructure to build secure and resilient children and young people beyond COVID-19.
The year 2020 in Australia is a defining moment. All Australians are impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. To emerge from this crisis, we need to address the gap in our current recovery plan: ensuring that children and young people develop well. If we want to build a more resilient and prosperous future, there is no better investment than the wellbeing of children and young people.
Australians are united through the sense that “we are all in this together.” Social cohesion and confidence in governments is high as decisions are based on evidence and expert advice. To fend off deep recession and hardship, Australian Governments have largely put ideology aside, rolled up their sleeves, and rolled out the most significant economic stimulus and social support packages this country has ever seen.
The pandemic has compounded existing inequalities. Youth unemployment rose to 13.8% in April and more than 20% of this group are also underemployed (ABS). The Reserve Bank reported GDP has fallen by 10% in the first half of 2020. Children and young people in jobless households, without decent housing and those with disabilities, have been at particular risk of hardship.
The time for action is now. There are distinct ‘windows of opportunity’ in childhood that determine how children develop – early childhood and the middle years. We know children’s education has been affected. We know that children are experiencing more anxiety (UNICEF).
Instead of ‘snapping back’ to pre-existing systems after the pandemic, we must maximise this opportunity to build back Australian communities with economic infrastructure (such as affordable housing) and program infrastructure that significantly improves the resilience and quality of life for all children, young people and families. The case for change has never been stronger. The National Cabinet must continue and we must prioritise a new Nation-Building Commitment- infrastructure and investment that enables all Australian children and young people to be secure and confident.