Australian Children and Young People’s Knowledge Acceleration Hub Key Findings

Australian Children and Young People’s Knowledge Acceleration Hub is an initiative by ARACY and UNICEF Australia to ensure that the impacts of COVID-19 on children in Australia are fully understood and communicated to decision-makers at all levels.

The Australian Children and Young People’s Knowledge Acceleration Hub seeks to inform the policy and program responses that will meet the needs of children during the COVID-19 crisis and throughout the recovery.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Group stated:

Children are not the face of this pandemic. But they risk being among its biggest victims. While they have thankfully been largely spared from the direct health effects of COVID-19 – at least to date – the crisis is having a profound effect on their wellbeing. All children, of all ages, and in all countries, are being affected, in particular by the socio-economic impacts and, in some cases, by mitigation measures that may inadvertently do more harm than good. This is a universal crisis and, for some children, the impact will be lifelong.

The hubs aim is to:

  • Ensure that the evolving needs of children continue to be well understood so they can be responded to efficiently and effectively
  • Accelerate collaboration and coordination among key stakeholders to address evidence gaps and build consensus around priorities for action
  • Facilitate knowledge sharing among key stakeholders, including access to global and local technical guidance and best practice

To do this, they are drawing upon data from Australia and international comparators, the latest research and analysis of COVID-19 and its impacts on children and families, and related research with applicable lessons for the known and anticipated impacts of COVID-19 and their potential mitigation.

Here are some of their key findings;

July Issue-

  • Young people are especially vulnerable to housing stress related to COVID-19 and the emerging recession, with 44% of renters aged 18-24 unable to pay their rent on time.
  • The Mitchell Institute for Education and Health Policy, using ABS data and modelling by the Grattan Institute, estimates that the number of children experiencing employment stress within their family has doubled to reach 1.4 million. ARACY research shows that children living in a jobless family are more than 4 times more likely to be homeless than kids in families where an adult works, nearly twice as likely to be bullied or face social exclusion, and almost two and a half times more likely to be missing out on learning at home.
  • Family relationships are under strain, with some states and services reporting an increase in family violence. However, some families report that lockdown has brought them closer.
  • Youth mental health (18-24 years) improved between April and May but remains significantly worse than pre-COVID-19 levels. 40% of young people (aged 15-24) feel that the pandemic has impacted their confidence to achieve future goals.

August Issue- 

  • Young people have experienced negative income growth and diminished opportunities to access the labour market over the past decade. Without government intervention, this trend is likely to continue which will be further exacerbated by the disproportionate employment and financial impacts felt by young people from the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Survey results indicate a rise in domestic violence against women during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additional resources directed toward service providers are vital in order to ensure that organisations are able to adapt and tailor their services to the context of a pandemic.
  • The evidence regarding COVID-19 transmission amongst children and the effectiveness of school closures continues to be mixed. Despite initial research suggesting that COVID-19 transmission was low in schools, we have since seen various school outbreaks nationally and internationally.
  • A survey with teachers raises a number of concerns regarding remote learning, including access to technology, student attendance, task completion, and emotional wellbeing.

September Issue-

  • There are serious concerns that the reductions in JobKeeper and JobSeeker will push many children into poverty. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Australia’s poverty rate was fairly average amongst rich countries, ranking 15th out of 41 rich countries.
  • While some children and young people may have experienced a strain in family relationships during COVID-19, 34% of mothers and 44% of fathers reported in June having more meaningful conversations with their children, compared to pre-COVID-19 levels.
  • Teachers report having a relentless workload, not wanting to teach anymore and feeling unprepared during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those surveyed report working up to three times more hours than they were paid.
  • Young people are missing out on important milestones and rites of passage, having substantial impacts on their opportunities and sense of identity.

You can stay up to date on the findings and read the full publications on the ARACY Website by following the below link.