The number of potentially vulnerable children in Australia will increase significantly as a result of COVID-19 related unemployment and underemployment. Mitchell Institute modelling estimates that in 2020 around 1.4 million preschool- and schoolchildren are in families experiencing employment stress. This is up from 615,000 children in 2016 – a jump of around 130%.
This briefing reviews evidence on how this will affect children’s wellbeing and educational outcomes. It outlines the critical role of schools and early childhood education and care (ECEC) providers in supporting children’s development and learning, and reducing the risk of increasing inequality. New analysis combines the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ census data with the Grattan Institute’s unemployment modelling to examine how and where families and children are likely to be impacted by financial stress as a direct result of COVID-19.
The results are sobering. We estimate that the number of preschool- and schoolchildren living with employment stress in the family has more than doubled nationally, with many regions experiencing increases of 200-300%. Lower-income families will be hit hardest, but job and income loss will be felt across all socio-economic groups and regions. Even with measures in place to speed up economic recovery, reducing levels of unemployment and underemployment could be a slow process.
Job losses and reduced income will place significant financial stress on many families, with the potential to compromise parents’ mental health and parenting capacity, reduce access to basic necessities and increase social isolation. Economic stress will compound other risk factors such as children’s temporary disengagement from school as a result of closures and increased levels of anxiety and stress due to COVID-19. [Continues …]
SOURCE: Noble, K., Hurley, P. & Macklin, S. (2020). COVID-19, employment stress and student vulnerability in Australia. Mitchell Institute for Education and Health Policy, Victoria University.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF COUNTRY
The Brotherhood of St Laurence acknowledges and recognises the Traditional Owners of the land upon which we live and work, and we pay our respects to their Elders both past and present
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