If you are feeling distressed, are worried about someone, or would like someone to talk to, please contact Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.
With the COVID-19 global pandemic, children and young people in Australia are living through unparalleled times.
Kids Helpline and the Australian Human Rights Commission have co-authored a report on the impacts of COVID-19 on children and young people who contact Kids Helpline.
The report examines the types of COVID-19-related concerns that children and young people aged 5 to 25 years raised with Kids Helpline counsellors between January and the end of April 2020. There were 2,567 contacts from children and young people who raised COVID-19 during this time period.
The overall top five concerns related to COVID-19 raised by these children and young people were:
- Mental health concerns resulting from COVID-19
- Social isolation
- Education impacts
- Impacts on family life
- Changes to plans and usual activities.
While these were the overall top concerns, differences existed across the top five concerns within age groups, gender, location, and cultural background. The numbers of children and young people varied across the demographics.
Mental health concerns resulting from COVID-19 was the top concern for females, males, and transgender or gender diverse aged 5-10 years and all those aged 18-25 years; males and transgender or gender diverse aged 11-14 years; those in cities and inner regional areas; and those aged 18-25 years from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds (CALD).
Education impacts was the top concern for females and transgender or gender diverse aged 11-14 years; females, males, and transgender or gender diverse aged 15-17 years; and those in outer regional and remote areas.
The top concern for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people was changes to essential services and supports.
The top COVID-19 concern for CALD children and young people aged 11-14 and 15-17 was impacts on family life.
The top concern for transgender or gender diverse aged 18-25 years was fear of contracting COVID-19.
Short case studies of children and young people are included within the report.
The report also highlights some key areas for government action to alleviate some of the negative impacts of the pandemic, particularly on children and young people. These include:
- investing in child and youth-focused mental health services and support
- promoting clear, accurate and child-friendly information and resources
- supporting schools and other educational institutions to deliver quality online learning and maintain help and connection for vulnerable students
- extending economic support to all families and young people that need it, and making skills development and youth employment a key focus of recovery
- prioritising services for vulnerable children and young people
- involving children and young people in responses to COVID-19 and recovery plans.
Prioritising the best interests and needs of children and young people in these challenging and extraordinary times is crucial. The health, social, educational, economic, and recreational impacts will be far-reaching for them, well beyond the pandemic’s immediate effects.