Vinnies’ focus on children during Anti-Poverty Week – October 16 – 22.

St Vincent de Paul Society CEO, Ms Heather Kent, has set the agenda for Anti-Poverty Week in Tasmania. She is asking all Tasmanians to assist Vinnies to address the life-changing, harmful effects of child poverty.

“Between October 16 – 22, as part of national Anti-Poverty Week, the St Vincent de Paul Society will be raising awareness and asking the community to help us to end child poverty in Tasmania. There are simple steps we can all take to ensure children do not go to bed hungry. Lifting children out of poverty can directly improve their health, education, and life chances,” Ms Kent said.

“It is a fundamental truth that to fix child poverty we must address poverty in general. Very few children care for themselves or live in isolation from adult carers. Too many Tasmanian families are living below the poverty line.

“It is a damning indictment that in Tasmania – a State with abundant fresh produce, clean water, good healthcare, fine education, and efficient delivery infrastructure – child poverty still exists, let alone at higher levels than across the rest of Australia.

“In 2020, the St Vincent de Paul Society contributed to a University of New South Wales study that found, “as one of the wealthiest countries in the world, Australia already had an unacceptably high rate of poverty amongst its communities.

Poverty in Australia 2020: Part 2 – Who is affected?, also found that “as at 2017 [the most recent figures], there were already 3.24 million people (13.6%) including 774,000 children (17.7%) living below the poverty line. That is one in eight people, including one in six children.” At 17.7%, the percentage of children living in poverty is higher than the percentage of any other age group – including those aged 65 years and over. An estimated 15,000 children in Tasmania live below the poverty line.

“One in six children living in poverty is unacceptable in 2022. Generally speaking, disadvantaged children experience educational outcomes below those of more advantaged children. Students who live in poverty are prone to social exclusion at school due an inability to afford nice clothes; the costs associated with extracurricular activities such as school sport – which builds confidence, friendships, and fitness; and school excursions – which lead to missing out on invaluable learning experiences outside the classroom.

“The Society continues to work with volunteers, government, and the corporate sector to deliver nutritious meals to families in poverty. The Society has also developed programs for schools to build confidence and promote inclusion. These programs are designed to build the self-esteem of children as young as seven years of age. Vinnies youth programs encourage teenagers to develop their leadership skills. Each year, Vinnies Youth Leaders engage with hundreds of school-age children to level the playing field. While it is satisfying to see the positive outcomes, the need for support is growing month by month. The whole community needs to do more to support young people – to lift them out of poverty – and to give them the opportunities in life many of us take for granted.

“Please participate to prevent poverty. Vinnies is always looking for volunteers who are willing to help Tasmanians living in poverty. This can be volunteering on a Vinnies or Loui’s van, mentoring young people, supporting families living in poverty by donating to our many appeals, sharing your expertise and life skills, or generally extending friendship and compassion to the less fortunate. Inclusion breaks down social barriers and often identifies opportunities to improve the lives of those living in poverty. This, ultimately, helps children living in poverty,” Ms Kent said.

As part of national Anti-Poverty Week, the St Vincent de Paul Society will be running a number of events across Tasmania, between October 16 – 22, to raise awareness of child poverty. Details of the events in each region are available on the Vinnies Tas Facebook page and by visiting vinniestas.org.au.

MEDIA NOTES: The St Vincent de Paul Society was founded in Paris, France in 1833 by a 20-year old Italian student, Frederic Ozanam. Today, the Society operates in 153 countries and has over 800,000 members. Australia has over 60,000 members, dedicated to assisting people in need and combating social injustice. The Society started in Tasmania in 1899 when founders established a Conference in Launceston. From humble beginnings, the Society has grown to 25 Conferences within three Regional Councils across Tasmania. Each Conference undertake a variety of good works, the most recognised being the traditional Vincentian home visits and the annual CEO Sleep-out to draw attention to homelessness.

Media contact, Mark Wells: +61 414 015 966 (24-hours)
© St Vincent de Paul Society and MWPA.

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