Aussies want greater support for the one in six kids living in poverty
28 January 2020 at 4:09 pm
More than half of Australians report seeing children and families impacted by poverty in their local area
Almost 70 per cent of Australians underestimate the level of child poverty across the country, according to new research from The Smith Family.
A survey of more than 1,000 people found that while 68 per cent misjudged the severity of child poverty in Australia, nine in 10 Australians believed addressing child poverty should be a top priority for the nation.
The Smith Family CEO Dr Lisa O’Brien said as families prepared for the new school year, the impact of poverty on a child’s education could be devastating.
“One in six children are living in poverty in Australia today,” O’Brien said.
“Sadly, the poverty these children are experiencing at home can negatively affect their school lives as well.”
When asked to guess how many Australian children were living in poverty, 31 per cent said one in 60, while 24 per cent said 1 in 600.
Meanwhile, 13 per cent believed it was 1 in 6000 children living in poverty.
This research comes as The Smith Family launches its 2020 Back to School Appeal, aiming to help more than 9,000 children in need.
O’Brien said she felt especially for the families in poverty who were affected by the nation’s bushfire crisis.
“Some of our families live in communities which have been ravaged by these fires. All families have come through safe, but there are hundreds directly impacted,” she said.
“The effects of these fires will be felt in many ways by our families. Of particular concern are the longer term economic impacts – business loss, disruption and downturn.
“These consequences will be widespread and will be felt strongly by families – families already experiencing disadvantage.”
O’Brien said The Smith Family will be working closely with schools to ensure its education-oriented support was available to families in need.
She added that she didn’t want family poverty to hurt any child’s educational progress.
“Long after this crisis is over, we will be there for children to mitigate the educational struggles they may face as a result of their family circumstances.” she said.
“And, through this survey, I am heartened to see how, like us, Australians are very concerned about the educational impact of poverty on young people.”
Children not having access to learning materials needed for school, such as books and stationery, was a serious concern for 61 per cent of those surveyed.
The Smith Family said it is working with sponsors and major partners like Officeworks so children experiencing poverty can get what they need to thrive in the classroom.
“Without extra support to overcome these challenges, these students are far less likely to complete school, and this can have a negative impact on their future life outcomes,” O’Brien said.
“But there is also plenty of evidence to show that children who are given the right support, at the right time, can get back on track and have successful lives and careers.”