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

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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

What causes Poverty?

“Relative poverty defines poverty in relation to the economic status of other members of the society: people are poor if they fall below prevailing standards of living in a given societal context.” – UNESCO

In countries such as Australia, poverty is not caused by the same factors as those in third world countries. It is important that we need to understand that poverty and homelessness is not a choice. Poverty can be caused by a whole range of factors. When people face unemployment, high mortgage rates, increasing rent prices and persistent inequality in society, these factors can ultimately lead to poverty.

Often children facing poverty live in a single-parent income household, where one parent has to take care of 1 or more children and themselves on a weekly income of $400. A lot of the times, if these single parents are women they could also be facing gender inequality issues regarding their pay rates. Supporting yourself and your family can be hard enough as it is but when you have to pay bills, a mortgage/rent, and provide basic needs for yourself and your child.

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According to Allison McClellan’s research  ‘No Child: Child Poverty in Australia’, the reasons for child poverty and inequality in Australia. Children at great risk of poverty include:

  • Indigenous Australian children,
  • The children of sole-parent families,
  • Children where no parent is in paid work,
  • Children where the prime source of income is government income support,
  • Children in public or private rental accommodation, and
  • Children with parents from certain non-English speaking backgrounds

With a new Liberal Government in place in Australia, the government needs to examine the reasons behind why poverty and child poverty in particular is so prevalent. Government incentives, welfare benefits and price ceilings can be placed in particular areas to help disadvantaged families and children. Housing costs and availability still play a critical role in child poverty. The declining role of public housing has also influenced the rising rate of Child Poverty. The availability of low-cost rental accommodation has reduced while levels of evictions have been increasing. Inefficient income support payments. Rent Assistance and Child Support Schemes need to be altered to help families cope with the pressures of modern day life.

Your Child Poverty Advocate,

Shrishti

Poverty and Homelessness among the Youth

With the Salvation Army’s ‘Couch Project’ coming up this Friday on September 18th, it is vital to raise awareness of the dangers of youth homelessness and ‘couch surfing’.

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In Australia, we tend to view people who are homeless or poor as someone has somehow failed to make it in society. However that is not the case! There is such a stigma with homeless and poor people in first world countries that we want to pretend they don’t exist because the alternative of knowing and understanding that poverty exists everywhere is too hard to accept. Now imagine a scenario  like this:

You are walking through Central Station in Sydney, on your way to work, university, etc. and you see a homeless woman approaching strangers begging for money that that she can eat.

What would YOU do next? How would YOU try to help?

Most people in this scenario would avert their eyes, pop their headphones in and pretend to be entirely engaged with their Facebook newsfeeds on their phones.

How many people do you think would actually stop and offer this woman money or help?

Now imagine if it was a young person was facing these dilemmas without anyone to help him/her. To help the youth population facing homelessness sleep on your couch this coming Friday to help raise awareness of regarding child poverty and youth homelessness.

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Check out how the Salvation Army has helped many young people around Australia through these amazing people’s stories: https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PLvZY_6Hs_yYizL-ooVy8DbyUjY8lmPbVB&v=kYF2CV5kjUM

Your Child Poverty Advocate,

Shrishti

What do you think of when you hear the word ‘poverty’? 

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When we think of poverty we normally don’t associate it with countries such as Australia. Poverty is seen as a problem that exists only in developing third world countries where people struggle to have basic needs. Now imagine a child between the ages of 6-16 facing these issues.

Before we can understand how poverty affects the Australian youth we need to understand what poverty in this context means. According to the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS)’s Report published in 2014:“Poverty is defined as the pronounced deprivation of well-being, or the inability to satisfy one’s basic needs.”  People are described as being poor if they fall below the expected standards of living in that given societal context. In a country like Australia, poverty is not only defined through a deprivation of basic needs. Rather poverty here refers to individuals and families failing to have a particular standard of life due to a lack of money and opportunity.

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Countries such as Australia are not exempt from the problem of poverty. In fact, Australia is a first-world country with one of the highest child poverty rates. With over 602,604 children living below the poverty line  (which is 17.7% of all children), who are living in households who are earning 50% of the median incomes. These families are surviving on $400 a week.  These children often face social exclusion and prejudice due to their economic circumstances. This is a result of being unable to engage in after school activities such as sports, affording to have the latest expensive toys and in some extreme cases even affording to have basic meals.

No child deserves to live like this. Help support Make them Bloom so that we can move towards a more equal Australia.

Learn more about Child Poverty in Australia in my coming blog posts!

Your Child Poverty Advocate,

Shrishti