One in three children from disadvantaged backgrounds start school already behind and by age 15, the education gap is equivalent to three years of schooling.
Children’s education charity The Smith Family has launched its 2018 Winter Appeal to help thousands of disadvantaged young Australians break the cycle of poverty through vital support for their education.
With one in seven Australian children and young people living below the poverty line, this support is more critical than ever.
After falling pregnant in Year 11, Karmilya worked hard to finish Year 12 from home. She wanted the best for her children.
But caring for her youngest daughter – who has cystic fibrosis – meant the money wasn’t there for her other children’s school essentials and the extra learning support they needed.
Thanks to The Smith Family, Karmilya’s children now have complete uniforms, money for excursions and access to education support programs, such as after-school Learning Clubs.
For eldest daughter Chenoa, getting assistance with her homework through a volunteer tutor at Learning Club has given her so much confidence that she’s even able to help other students.
“I’m grateful that The Smith Family found us. Learning Clubs help the kids improve their reading and writing. Chenoa goes weekly and she loves that. Chenoa’s more like a leader who helps all the other kids – sits down and reads with them,” said Karmilya.
The Smith Family’s CEO Dr Lisa O’Brien said: “With the support of the Australian community, we’ve been able to help thousands of children like Chenoa thrive in their education through a range of programs that begin in the early years and continue through to the tertiary level.
In the last year alone, our work reached more than 120,000 disadvantaged young Australians across the country, but the need is so much higher.”
Dr O’Brien said the extent of poverty in Australia is not well understood and that supporting children’s education over the long term is the most effective way to tackle this problem.
“The staggering fact is there are 1.1 million young Australians living below the poverty line today. We don’t always see the struggles faced by these children because poverty can be hidden.
“With the assistance of volunteer tutors, programs such as our Learning Clubs help improve students’ grades – and as their grades start to improve, so does their attendance and likelihood of completing Year 12.
We know that if we can help students finish school, this in turn leads to better job prospects, the security of regular income and the skills to participate fully in society,” Dr O’Brien said.
Funds raised through The Smith Family’s Winter Appeal will help nearly 10,000 disadvantaged children access a range of literacy and numeracy programs, as well as after-school Learning Clubs and the iTrack online mentoring program.
With the wrap-around support The Smith Family provides, Chenoa has blossomed both personally and academically.
Now Chenoa believes in herself and is determined to keep trying her hardest at school.
“Before The Smith Family came into mine and my children’s lives, I was living with my mum, going through a really bad break up and it was really tough. We struggled financially.
“When I was growing up, my parents had health issues and they were unable to work. As a result, I did miss out on a lot with my education.”
“I’d like to say thank you to The Smith Family sponsors, you’ve absolutely changed our lives,” said Karmilya.
Anyone wishing to donate to The Smith Family’s Winter Appeal can visit thesmithfamily.com.au/winter
Read more about The Smith Family’s Learning and Mentoring Programs