The Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) has joined to join with the Australian Medical Association (AMA) to call for a refocus on improving child health and wellbeing, and strongly recommend that both are placed at the centre of national attention and public policy making as we head into the 2022 election cycle.
For a precious, few months in 2020, we tackled poverty, lifted income support and protected people from evictions. This period demonstrated powerfully the importance of reducing financial distress to family and child wellbeing.
ACOSS is a joint signatory to the AMA’s Communique, Child health – time to look to the future alongside several other national organisations and advocates.
ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie (pictured) said:
“Never in recent memory have children grown up surrounded by such complex, intersecting and existential challenges risking their physical, emotional and mental health. Even as we continue to grapple with COVID-19, Australia confronts a persistent problem with poverty, yawning inequality and a housing affordability crisis. And all this is before we even get to the profound problems presented by accelerating climate change and an increase in natural disasters.”
“The joint statement accepts this starting reality and offers a positive approach for addressing these dilemmas head on. It is a clear, important acknowledgement of how social, economic and environmental challenges affect children’s health, wellbeing and development. The best public policy will not only recognise the links between social determinants and child health, but actively put the determinants at the centre of a strengthened and long-term national response.
We particularly welcome the strong focus on poverty as a primary, and avoidable driver of negative health and wellbeing outcomes for children.
As one of the wealthiest countries in the world, there is no excuse for any child to live in poverty. And we know what needs to be done to protect children. An adequate income to cover the basics and a secure, affordable safe home are the very essentials of supporting health and wellbeing.
We need to immediately increase JobSeeker and related income support to at least $69 per day, increase Commonwealth Rent Assistance by 50%, and make an urgent investment in social housing so that everyone can cover the basics and keep a safe roof over their head.
We have shown we are capable of ending poverty. We know what we need to do. Now is the time to act.
This is the year to put good intent and strong words into action.
“During the pandemic those with the least have suffered the most. The ABS released data released last week revealing the number of people who died due to COVID-19 was over 3 times higher in the most disadvantaged socio-economic groups, with people living in the least disadvantaged areas (quintile 5) having the lowest numbers of deaths due to the virus.”
“The forthcoming election is an opportunity to look to and build for the future whilst also learning the important lessons from the last two years. A federal government that resources decent essential services, safety nets and a genuine response to climate change is one that recognises investing in evidence-based strategies during the early years of life have a very powerful and positive impact over the rest of a child’s life.”