Our actions stop poor children becoming poor adults

17 October 2016

In Australia today, one in 10 children is growing up in a jobless family. Too often the family struggles that affect a child’s home life can flow on to affect their school life, too.

Sadly, these children are more likely to experience economic and social hardship when they are adults and it’s these children we want to catch, to help them break this self-perpetuating cycle.

Children from disadvantaged families need our support to make the most out of their school years. They need resources and opportunities to help them participate fully in their education. When they arrive at school in their first year, they want to fit in and belong. It’s important that they have school essentials such as a new uniform, shoes, and money for excursions. To keep up with what’s going on in the classroom, they need support to develop key skills, particularly in reading and maths.

To break the cycle of disadvantage The Smith Family focuses on providing long-term educational support for young Australians in need.

Our approach is to work with students, their families and in their communities at every stage of a disadvantaged student’s journey through education. Our targeted Learning for Life program helps children and young people to participate fully in their education and it mitigates against the negative impacts of growing up in financial hardship.

We work in every state and territory with students and families who are highly disadvantaged.

Our programs and support are tailored to overcome the specific barriers to education these students and families face. We start in the early years before children start school, with programs for parents and community professionals that nurture learning and development in young children. We also foster strong relationships with parents and carers so they have the knowledge, skills and confidence to positively influence their child’s education and promote a stronger learning environment in the home.

We know that education is a key enabler of economic and social participation for young people from all backgrounds. Research shows that completing Year 12 or its equivalent, increases the likelihood that a young person will move into further study or employment and go on to participate fully in their community with improved employment, health and overall life outcomes.

Our balanced, long-term support from an early age, helps disadvantaged students achieve the three longer-term outcomes we track– strong school attendance, completion of Year 12 or its equivalent, and post-school engagement in employment, education or training.

Our approach gives young people in need the support they require to overcome their disadvantage and become productive and thriving citizens. Our long-term investment in them is making a lasting difference.

Indeed it is truly transformational – and in this video you can see the difference this kind of support has made to one of our students, Aaron, as he talks about the effect it has had on his life.


Dr Lisa O’Brien