COVID-19 has had a seismic impact on young children, UNICEF and ARACY state
Responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have failed to sufficiently consider Australian children, leading child rights advocates UNICEF Australia and the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY) have said, expressing concern about “seismic impacts on a generation creating urgent needs.”
The ripple effects of the pandemic in terms of health outcomes, and economic and social consequences will be profound and long-lasting, the advocates continued, and a pathway for them out of the pandemic must include the development of a National Children’s Plan.
“I am very concerned that the unique needs of children have not been a priority during the past 19 months with COVID policy focussed primarily on adults,” said National Children’s Commissioner, Anne Hollonds.
Children are struggling with learning and mental health, she continued, and safety concerns in these areas are becoming increasingly apparent as children return to school and early learning.
“Now as we climb out of COVID lockdowns we need to listen to children and act to support their safety, development and wellbeing,” Commissioner Hollonds added.
“Children and young people have been overlooked in the recovery plan and we cannot delay addressing their needs any longer,” said Director of Australian Programs and Child Rights for UNICEF Australia Nicole Breeze.
“We have given attention to the needs of adults and now we must elevate children’s priorities, action them with urgency and ensure we place children at the heart of policy making for the years ahead.”
UNICEF and ARACY are calling for immediate interim action with the release earlier this week of a COVID plan outlining six priorities for children and young people:
- Urgently provide support for mental health
- Provide economic support for those in desperate need
- Keep schools open safely
- Listen to children and young people then plan for their futures
- Prioritise vaccination and vaccination information for children
- Leave nobody behind in our pandemic response.
To access Key Priorities for a Pathway Out of the Pandemic please see here.