Education for everyone

cycle of disadvantage
Cycle of disadvantage

Today, one in six Australian children and young people live in poverty1, where even life’s basic needs are hard to come by. When families experience financial disadvantage children can fall behind with their learning, leaving them more vulnerable to experiencing hardship later in the life. Research shows children and young people living in disadvantage have access to fewer books and learning materials. As these children get older, they have fewer role models and access to mentors and networks critical for motivating them to learn.

For over 1.1 million Australian children and young people1 growing up in poverty can negatively affect their school life; they are less likely to achieve educational outcomes, passing on disadvantage to the next generation. • Poverty-stricken families face many challenges

  • More than half live in a single-parent family, with 6% living with a relative or in foster care
  • Around 40% of students and 50% of their parents/ carers have a health or disability issue
  • Around 60% have a parent or carer who did not finish Year 12
  • More than 70% of students have a parent or carer who is not in paid employment.

Disadvantaged students are on average 2–3 years behind in reading and maths by the time they are 15 years old.2 The reading gap between the lowest socio economic status (SES) students and the highest SES students is equivalent to almost three years of schooling.3

Year 12 completion rates are significantly lower (60%) for students from low SES backgrounds than for students from high SES backgrounds (90%).4 University students from high SES backgrounds are three times more likely to attend than students from low SES backgrounds.5

Research shows that completing Year 12 increases a young person’s likelihood of continuing with further study as well as entering the workforce.6

Ways You Can Help Locally

The Smith Family

Donate money to their Learning for Life program which supports children and young people to participate more fully in their education. They provide innovative, evidence-based programs and emotional, practical and financial support throughout their education. Sponsor a child or donate online at: or phone 1800 024 069.

YES Op Shop

Donate goods or money at 55 Mahoneys Road, Forest Hill. Youth Education Support (YES Inc.) sponsor disadvantaged youth in their teens and early twenties, assisting them with educational courses which will qualify them for employment and a better future.

YES Inc. offers help such as tutoring assistance in English and Maths from grades 5 and 6 to high school and beyond; supportive tutoring services and sponsorships. They provide resources such as text books, laptops, stationery and other related equipment through the help and support of donors, patrons and their Op Shop shoppers. Website:


  1. Poverty in Australia, 2018, ACOSS/UNSW Report.
  2. Thomson et al, 2011, Challenges for Australian Education:
    Results from PISA 2009.
  3. Dept of Education, Employment & Workplace Relations, 2011,
    Review of school funding final report.
  4. Australian Curriculum, Assessment & Reporting Authority 2012.
    National Report on Schooling in Australia 2010: Additional
  5. Dept of Education, Employment & Workplace Relations, 2008,
    Review of Australian Higher Education Final Report.
  6. Access Economics 2005, The economic benefit of increased
    participation in education and training. Dusseldorp Skills
    Forum and Business Council of Australia, Sydney