As most Australian children return to school today, they are being invited to share their stories about how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected their wellbeing, and how they have coped.
A national survey for children and young people aged 9 to 17 – and for their parents, carers or grandparents – will inform decisions about how best to support children as the pandemic continues, and as we emerge from it.
Children’s lives remain disrupted, and they are invited to share their experiences including returning to school amid the Omicron outbreak and other challenges of the past two years.
The surveys are government funded, and National Children’s Commissioner Anne Hollonds said participation by children and parents would help governments improve support services.
“Whether you are a child or teenager, a parent, grandparent or carer, your story is important, and sharing it will help to build better support for children in the future.
“Children and young people have not had many opportunities to be heard during the pandemic. This is a unique opportunity for them and their parents to contribute to recommendations for service improvements.
“The surveys will consider the social, emotional, educational, and other impacts children and young people have experienced over the past two years.
“Understanding these impacts in greater detail will help governments design better services to support the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people,” Commissioner Hollonds said.
Seventeen-year-old Jayden Delbridge, a member of the NSW Youth Advisory Council, said he found it difficult to find appropriate support when home-based learning began, and many of his friends dropped out of school.
"Home-based learning for me was absolutely horrible. I lost interest in some of my favourite subjects because I just couldn’t do them online,” Jayden said.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Australian children were experiencing a mental health crisis, and indications are that missed school, social isolation, increased anxiety and other impacts of the pandemic have exacerbated this crisis.
In addition to the children’s survey, parents, grandparents and carers are being invited to complete a second survey, to capture their experiences and perspectives about the pandemic’s impact on children and their families.
Both surveys are strictly confidential. They are available at kidscovidsurvey.com and are funded by the National Mental Health Commission. The Australian Human Rights Commission will report the results later this year.