A devastating drought in Australia has prompted concerns about the toll on children in rural areas who face heavy daily workloads and are being forced to “grow up prematurely”.
A United Nations report found that children in areas affected by the protracted drought are undergoing long, stressful days of farm labour to assist their families and many “fear for the future of their family”.
Parts of eastern Australia have endured a sustained drought, including several inland regions that have had their lowest amount of rainfall on record over the past 22 months.
The report, by Unicef Australia, was based on interviews with more than 50 children aged five to sixteen in affected areas who gave tragic accounts of living in a seemingly endless drought.
“You look across a paddock and there’s nothing there,” a ten-year-old boy told the researchers. “Like, it’s just dirt. And you see like a mirage… Just dead lands everywhere… dead animals.”
An 11-year-old girl said: “Our parents want to give us things, but they just can’t and we just know that and don’t say anything. Because it probably hurts them too.”