Australia should help the Pacific develop social security systems during the coronavirus pandemic, a parliamentary inquiry will be told.
The inquiry looking at implications of the pandemic for Australia's foreign affairs, defence and trade will on Wednesday hear from aid agency Save the Children.
The agency has for months pushed for Australia to do more to help its Pacific neighbours during the crisis.
Save the Children recently surveyed children and families around the world to find out how the virus haf impacted their lives.
Some 77 per cent of parents in the Pacific said they recently had trouble paying for food, while 40 per cent had lost income due to COVID-19.
"The lack of a functioning social protection system in most countries in the Pacific is a serious barrier to providing the kind of household payments necessary for families to weather this storm," the agency's deputy chief Mat Tinkler will tell the inquiry.
"Australia and the Pacific should look to create a social protection system which reaches the poorest children and families not engaged in the formal employment sector - the vast majority."
Save the Children's submission points to unemployment support JobSeeker and wage subsidy JobKeeper as major ways the government has responded to the virus to protect household incomes.
Establishing JobKeeper in the Pacific would be partially funded by Australia and developed in consultation with the communities, the submission recommends.
Mr Tinkler will also call for increased protections for children against violence and assurances school closures don't disengage kids from education.
Australia must increase engagement with its neighbours, he will say.
"If we step back now, just as children in our region are facing setbacks in their schooling, health, family finances and mental wellbeing, we will have set a course for a future which is measurably worse," Mr Tinkler will say.
"Ours is a call for prevention over belated cure, for supporting the recovery of our partners before the most severe damage is done."
Save the Children also recommends the Australian Infrastructure Financing Facility for the Pacific should be broadened to include human and social infrastructure.