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The great Australian renovation 4.98 MB

This report argues that the biggest learning from COVID-19 is the need for a new round of national reform. The pandemic acted as a stress test, exposing significant deficits of trust, social cohesion and equality in Australia. The human costs of the pandemic were not evenly spread. For example, people with full-time and white-collar jobs, living in affluent and well-resourced suburbs, fared far better than those living in crowded housing, with casual, insecure jobs and lower resourced schools and health facilities. The national reforms of the 1980s and 1990s need updating to include everyone in the Australian story.

One of the most important reasons to renovate our national model is to create a better future for young Australians. Children and young people sacrificed enormously to keep their parents and grandparents from harm. They are the forgotten heroes of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their lack of a public voice meant their needs were often placed second to those of adults, robbing them of important life experiences and development opportunities, with potentially long-term costs to their welfare. This must not be allowed to happen again.

The sacrifices of our young people must be repaid – by giving them a louder public voice, including them in our nation’s deliberations, and directing greater investment and resources towards their needs. Australia cannot be renovated to create a better future without the active involvement of the young. It is time for generational justice.

This report builds on the first iteration of the taskforce’s work in 2021, which helped lead public conversations about COVID-19 and the reopening of Australia’s borders.

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