When I left international development to work in the Australian community sector five years ago, I was struck by the differences. In rich economies there is data! There is money! And, while we love to whinge, there is a broadly competent government! 

Post the initial response to COVID, I am mindful that international development - with its experience of managing crises and their aftermaths - has something to 'teach' developed economies: the idea that after disasters, the aim should be to 'build back better'. That is, our recovery efforts should focus on building strong and more inclusive institutions and economies. In so doing, we can avoid unnecessary costs in the long-term. 

The Australian Government is currently of the view that COVID changes (free childcare, doubling unemployment assistance) should 'snap back' to pre-existing systems.

But when we consider that - pre-COVID - approximately 20% of kids entering school were at risk of not meeting developmental milestones (AEDC) or that age based discrimination has robbed the workforce of productive capacity, 'snapping back' makes little sense. It ignores the potential we have thus far failed to develop. We have the data, we still have (some) money and we have a broadly competent government.

Let's talk about what it means to build back better.  


Kirsty Nowlan

Exec Director, Strategic Engagement, Research & Advocacy @benevolentAU Co-Chair @EveryAgeCounts and @everychild_AU @PensionPoverty
16 August 19

Campaigning for Every Child

The Every Child campaign is a national movement launching Tuesday August 27th to ensure all children and young people can thrive because families are able to get the right support at the right time.

19 August 19

Opinion: Protecting vulnerable children – policy lessons from public health

The launch of the Every Child Campaign is an ideal opportunity to reignite the conversation about the more than 45,000 children who live in care in Australia today. This number is unacceptably large and it’s well-documented that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are the most significantly affected.

15 April 20

A joint statement of solidarity between the generations

In the COVID-19 pandemic, more than ever before, generations need to work together. This is a joint statement of solidarity between EveryChild and our sister campaign, EveryAGE Counts - a campaign aimed at tackling ageism against older Australians.   

19 May 20

The Time For Action Is Now

Together - we can build back better.

One of the most remarkable features of 2020 has been the revelation that we have not lost that most fundamental of skills in liberal democracy: the ability to listen and to adapt to feedback. I watch in real time as changes are made to policies on advice from groups that would previously have been lined up on the other side of an ideological war. We will need this skill more than ever in the recovery phase.

08 May 20

Lets Talk About What It Means To Build Back Better

When I left international development to work in the Australian community sector five years ago, I was struck by the differences. In rich economies there is data! There is money! And, while we love to whinge, there is a broadly competent government!