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