How can YOU help to end Child Poverty

Looking for new ways to help eliminate poverty in Australia? Well, today, we will be moving in a different direction by finding out what we can do in our local community to help these disadvantaged children. There are many charities, not-for profits and organisations that are dedicated to helping families and children struck by poverty. We are going to mention some of these organisations and how you can get involved and help in this amazing cause.

St. Vincent de Paul’s Society

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The St Vincent de Paul Society in Australia has more than 40,000 members and volunteers, “who work hard to assist people in need and combat social justice across Australia. “Donating money is one of the most common ways to help out but there are other ways to participate. Organising a fundraiser in school or just raising money through monthly mufti days can go a long way in helping. In almost every neighborhood there is a Vinnies store where you can donate old clothes, shoes, books, toys, etc. If you want to get more involved why not volunteer or try to work at the Vinnies.

The Smith Family 

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Specifically dedicated to helping children facing poverty, The Smith Family is a children’s charity that helps disadvantaged Australia children to get the most out of their education so that they can create better future for themselves. Helping these children could mean donating old toys, books and games in their annual Christmas Toy& Book Appeal or giving away your old or unwanted clothes. Getting involved is simple: either donate money to the organisation, shop in their stores or volunteer to work for the Smith Family.

Salvation Army

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Most famous for their Red Shield Appeal, The Salvation Army works hard every year to try and help the most needy in Australia. By supporting the Red Shield Appeal you are helping to change a life before it becomes a lifetime, assisting someone to break the cycle of homelessness. There are currently more than 105,000 people in Australia who currently don’t have a secure and safe place to live. This year, on September 18th they organised ‘The Couch Project’ to help bring awareness of youth homelessness. You can get involved through volunteering, corporate support and fundraising at your school.

Oxfam Australia 

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Not unlike the Vinnies, Oxfam Australia  also have stores around the community where you can donate clothes, shoes, toys, etc. The money spent at these stores goes towards helping disadvantaged families and children. There are many ways to get involved in Oxfam by either volunteering in one of their stores, fundraising events and blogging for their cause. As a volunteer you can join a Oxfam group and help out in your community.

Brotherhood of St. Laurence 

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The Brotherhood of St. Laurence is an organisation committed to working for an Australia that is free of poverty. The Brotherhood offer many opportunities for young people and families to help disadvantaged families get through rough times. They have schools and scholarship programs dedicated to educating and helping young people obtain jobs. Getting involved with the Brotherhood is as simple as donating money or time towards volunteering for the Brotherhood.

Getting involved is simple! Start today by supporting any of these great organisations!

Your Child Poverty Advocate,

Shrishti

From Poverty to Power: Six celebrities who grew up poor

When we think of our favourite celebrities it is hard to imagine them having a life that is anything but glamorous. However, many celebrities overcame many trials and tribulations before they become famous and rich. These individuals are proof  that even if you are born into a ‘bad situation’ that people have the potential to pull themselves out of poverty. These actors, musicians,TV hosts and writers all grew up in poor or poverty stricken circumstances. Many of them struggled to obtain proper shelter and during their formative years. Our list of five celebrities who went from rags to riches:

Leighton Meester

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Normally the Queen B of the Upper East Side of Manhattan, as an affluent teenager on the CW show ‘Gossip Girl’, Meester’s childhood couldn’t be further away from the privileged life that she portrayed as Blair Waldorf. Her mother who was pregnant with Meester at the time, went to jail for drug trafficking. She gave birth to Meester in a hospital and nursed her in a halfway house before returning to prison.

Jim Carey

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Known for his comedic roles in movies like Dumb & Dumber, Yes Man and Liar Liar. Before all this, he went through a rough childhood. While his first few years were happy but this all changed when he became a teenager when his father lost his job. Carey said on Inside the Actors Studio, “When he lost his job that’s when everything fell apart. We went from ‘lower middle class’ to ‘poor.’ We were living out of a van. I quit school at age 15 to begin working to help support my family as a janitor.” Despite all that, Carey went on to have a successful career in the entertainment industry.

J.K. Rowling

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Best known for writing the “Harry Potter” series, J.K Rowling began her career as a struggling, single mother who was living off handouts from the government. She found inspiration while delayed on a train for 4 hours. It was there that she turned something mundane into something magical.  With a seven book series, eight films and a copious amount of toys and games, it has made her into a billionaire.

Leonardo DiCaprio 

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‘The Wolf of Wall Street‘ star wasn’t always a wealthy actor/playboy/mogul. Originally he started out by living in poverty in Hollywood where he was constantly surrounded by criminals and shady characters. He was raised in Los Angeles, California, where his mother worked two jobs to support her and her son. DiCaprio told The Independent  that there was a “major prostitution ring on my street corner, crime and violence everywhere.” Later on in his life he also battled homelessness for a time before catching his first big break.

Sarah Jessica Parker

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This  Emmy Award winning actress dealt with the effects of poverty at a young age. Parker’s mother always had a steady job however she was one of eight and supporting that many children was always a struggle. Parker told The New York Times that “We were on welfare. I remember being poor. There was no way to hide it. We didn’t have electricity sometimes.”

Mark Walhberg 

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The Fighter’ star started out as a common street rat. He dropped out of school at just 14 years old and took to a life of petty crime. After serving jail sentence for assault, he got his life on track and got a record deal. He went on to become a big-time actor and starring in many blockbusters such as the most recent “Transformers” film, which grossed over $100 million in its opening weekend.

All these celebrities faced poverty at a young age and came out of it with help from people, communities and the government.

Your Child Poverty Advocate,

Shrishti

Join the fight against Poverty!

Today, marks the halfway point in the nation’s Anti-Poverty Week from 11th- 17th October. Anti- Poverty Week is a national scheme aimed at encouraging all Australians to organise or to take part in an activity that will highlight or overcome issues of poverty and hardship across Australia and overseas. It was established in Australia to work in correlation with the UN’s annual International Anti-Poverty Day on October 17th.

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The main aims of Anti-Poverty week is to:

  • Strengthen public understanding of the causes and consequences of poverty and hardship around the world and in Australia; and
  • Encourage research, discussion and action to address these problems, including action by individuals, communities, organisations and governments.

“Poverty and severe hardship affect more than a million Australians. Around the world, more than a billion people are desperately poor. In Anti-Poverty Week, YOU can help fight poverty and hardship!”

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Do you think you could live off $18 a day? Well if you can’t imagine any person or child living like that then join the fight against poverty by getting involved in Anti-Poverty Week 2015.

It doesn’t matter who you work for or what you do! Just create or take part in an activity/ event and YOU can help to raise awareness of the prevalence of poverty and inequality in Australia.

Whether you are a welfare group, health organisations, religious groups, community organisation, community organisations, schools and youth groups. YOU can take part and MAKE a difference in the lives of these people.

Have a look at the Anti-Poverty Week 2015’s Calendar for ideas and events to take part in!

Your Child Poverty Advocate,

Shrishti

How did the recession affect Australia’s Child Poverty rate?

During the Global Financial Crisis  (GFC) in 2008, the economies of most countries entered into a recession. The number of children that entered into poverty during the recession was 2.6 million higher than the number that have been able to escape it since 2008 (6.6 million, versus 4 million).  According to UNICEF around 76.5 million children live in poverty in the 41 most affluent countries around the world.

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“Countries should place the well-being of children at the top of their responses to the recession. not only is this a moral obligation but it is in the self-interest of societies.”

After the recession, Australia’s NEET Rate which is the percentage of young people aged 15-24 why are currently not participating in education, employment or training increased.

The NEET rate went from 9.9 in 2008 to 12.2 in 2013.  High NEET rates suggest an interrupted transition from school to work, or from school onto further education, with long-term individual and societal costs. An increase in the NEET rate reflects the recession’s impact on the generation of young people. Compared to their parents these children have started loosing their chance for a productive adulthood.

The recession made it difficult for parents with children to get employed, pay their bills and mortgages. Children rarely manage to avoid the stress and suffering that is felt by the parents who endure unemployment or a significant reduction in income. Children face the downturns of family fortunes in multiple ways: both subtly and in painfully evident ways.

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Imagine a child who suffers from slight and major humiliations in front of their friends and classmates. A child who aren’t able to afford buying school materials, can’t take part in after-school sport activities, play musical instruments or take part in other extra-curricular activities. In extreme circumstances, these children and their families can be forced to leave their homes and countries.

Poverty is a self-reinforcing vicious cycle.

A child with unemployed parents might not do as well at school. When this child isn’t able to do well in school, this might bring more stress back home. And on and on it goes…

The longer any child is locked in this cycle, the less chances they have to escape it.that is why we need to address this issue NOW!

Your Child Poverty Advocate,

Shrishti

Child Poverty and the World

Over 1 billion children in the world are deprived of at least one basic necessity of life such as food, clean water, shelter or healthcare. Instead of running, laughing and playing with their friends, these children spend most of their formative years struggling to survive.

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Poverty affects all aspects of a child’s life. Poverty limits their opportunities to obtain education, puts them at risk for health problems and increases the likelihood that they will be subjected to child labour or early marriage. These children are left hungry for days which increases the risk for malnutrition, underdevelopment, and stunting – all of which can have serious health consequences later in life.

“Poverty is a measure not only of children’s suffering but also of their dis-empowerment.”

Child poverty has a damaging effect on the the child’s mental, physical, emotional and spiritual development. Child poverty here moves past the traditional definition of low household incomes or low levels of consumption. What is interesting to note is that the distinction between ‘child poverty’ and ‘poverty’ are hardly outlined clearly. Poverty places a strain on the life of any individual. However the overall negative effects are much higher in children.

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Children experience poverty with their hands, hearts and minds. When a child starts their day without a nutritious meal or have to go engage in hazardous labour, this limits their emotional capacity, bodily growth and puts their health at risk. Children who live in an environment with little to none stimulation or emotional support can ruin the positive effects that growing up in a materially rich household. By limiting children’s participation and involvement in society their potential is inhibited.

With each generation, there is a possibility for change.

When children are given a chance to be educated, empowered and take part in society as equals, they are given all the skills and power to lift themselves out of poverty.

For more information have a look at: The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)’s  interactive world map outlining the incidence of Child Poverty throughout the world.

Your Child Poverty Advocate,

Shrishti

Action to reduce Child Poverty

When we think of the issue of poverty, it seems like a huge concept that is too hard to grasp. Claiming that we want to end poverty is a great statement to make. However in reality what are the actual real changes that the government and organisations can implement to make an actual systematic change in society. The main way to eradicate child poverty is at a fundamental level we need to change many of the systems that increase poverty and inequality.

So what are some actions that can be taken to reduce child poverty in Australia?

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Researchers and organisations have identified reform proposals that are relevant to reducing child poverty in Australia. As outlined in the Brotherhood of St Laurence’s research the common proposals include:

  • Improve the immediate living standards of children in low-income families especially through improvements to levels of income support to ensure all children are in families with an adequate income regardless of their parents’ situations, as well as improved access to low-cost services, particularly housing;
  • Prevent families with children becoming poor, especially by reducing unemployment, preventing low-wage poverty and providing better assistance to unemployed and jobless parents to obtain work;
  • Assist groups facing particular problems or risks including indigenous Australians, sole-parent and homeless families; and
  • Improve child development, especially to redress the disadvantage that certain children may face.

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At the core of all these issue is 5 main priority areas:

  • Reducing unemployment without increasing wage poverty;
  • Improvements to education and training which include greater attention to preschool intervention. To focus on improving the quality and experiences of schooling for children from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.
  • Improvements to the affordability and security of housing in locations where employment and services can be readily accessed. To achieve this, the supply of low-cost housing must be increased along with action to prevent evictions and homelessness;
  • Improvements to the affordability of child care and access to a number of health-related and family support services; and
  • Improvements to income support arrangements such as payments to sole parents with older children and the easing of income tests.

If we want to make a tangible difference towards reducing child poverty we need to look at poverty as related to inequality. Poverty and inequality can isolate individuals from a lower socio-economic background because of their inability to afford the ‘culturally expected’ way of life.

Action to reduce child poverty cannot happen without some help. There needs to be political and community commitment and engagement for this issue to be addressed. Understanding how different strategies can improve disadvantaged families and children lives can help us develop into a better nation. Together we can create an Australia that is free from these social and economic inequalities.

Your Child Poverty Advocate,

Shrishti

How much of Australia is affected by Child Poverty?

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been shedding some light on the prevalence and the issues surrounding child poverty in Australia and around the world. The question that still remains is how much child poverty actually exists in Australia and what is the extent of it?

There are a number of large variations in recent estimates of child poverty as it changes over time. The best estimate at this point is that 1 in 8 children in Australia are likely to be living in families with incomes below the half-average poverty line (before housing costs). While a higher proportion of children are living with families on low incomes that are only slightly above this figure. Once we take housing costs into account, this figure increases to 1 in 5 children in Australia that live in poverty.

The prevalence of Child Poverty
The prevalence of Child Poverty

Since the 1970s, the level of child poverty, that is the number of children in families with incomes below the poverty line, has increased to an extent.  This rate has not reduced however the actual depth of child poverty has been slowly reducing over time. This means that over time there has been fewer children in families with incomes that are significantly below the poverty line.

The driving factor in this increase in child poverty has come from the low earnings of parents as a result of: unemployment, and low-wage earnings growth for parents with low sills and who are on low wages. The Australian government has made improvements for low-income families with children by placing incentives and subsidizing services that will help these low income families.

Compared to other developed countries, Australia’s child poverty rates are incredibly high. This comparison may overstate the relative poverty and inequality present in society. However these results do demonstrate that we need to do much better.

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The position of families with children relative to other families appears to have deteriorated over time. This should be an area of concern for all those interested in the welfare and safety of all children. Another main cause for increased child poverty rates in Australia is the rising rate of young people aged 16 years and over who are either jobless or in a low-wage occupation.

We need to understand the cause and prevalence of child poverty in Australia so that we can start to find a solution for the problem.

Your Child Poverty Advocate,

Shrishti