The Australian Government, like many governments worldwide, initiated a significant public policy response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Health system measures have been crucial for protecting health, however policies aimed at economic stabilisation and recovery have also had major implications for health equity through shaping the daily conditions of people’s lives. If Australia is to prevent a massive widening of health inequities emerging from the pandemic, it is vital we pay attention to the short and long-term impacts of these policies on health and social equity.
Menzies researchers have released two reports evaluating the Australian government’s policy response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In our report released in August 2020: ‘Australian COVID-19 policy responses: Good for health equity or a missed opportunity?’, the Menzies Centre put focus on the health equity implications of the Australian Government’s COVID-19 policy response. We collated the 156 social and economic policy measures introduced at the Federal and State/Territory level between the 12th of March and 16th of June, and assessed the health equity impacts of these across eight key social determinants of health equity including employment, income, cost of living, education, housing, infrastructure, community, legal and social services, and health care.
In our report released in November 2021: ‘Australian COVID-19 Policy Responses: a Health Equity Report Card’ the Menzies Centre put focus on the Australian Federal and State/Territory Governments’ report cards on the employment, income support and housing policies introduced as a response to the pandemic and their health equity implications. Each of these issues are important social determinants of health equity, affecting peoples’ financial security, sense of dignity and control over their lives, and the provision of shelter. In addition to the report card, we discuss the policy silences and the need for a social vaccine.
On 9 November 2021, Edwina MacDonald of ACOSS joined Professor Sharon Friel to discuss the Health Equity Report Card.