The words ‘moral courage’ echoed through the 2018 ECA National conference after international keynote Dr Cindy Blackstock challenged educators and carers to consider how they can and do advocate for children every day through their work. Anti-poverty Week seems a good time to think about focusing on children’s needs, especially as one in six children in Australia live in poverty. This blog points to the facts, resources and events you can tap into to understand the reality of poverty in Australia.
Despite continuing economic growth, three million people are living in poverty in Australia and 731,000 of them are children. This means poverty in Australia is a reality for one in six children (ACOSS, 2018 says that one in six or 17.4% of children under the age of 15 lives in poverty). Here are ten things from Poverty in Australia that you can do, share, attend or discuss with others. How can you adapt the suggestions to be part of your educational practice this week in some small (or large) way? If you can’t offer something this week what can you take from Anti-poverty Week that will shape your practice or your team work in early childhood in the coming year?
Ten things educators could try in Anti-poverty Week
- Discuss with your colleagues the poverty issues that are present (although not always visible) in your community of families or in your local community and discuss some actions to address it.
- If you are in a community organisation, sporting association or other club, ask the team to think about doing something during the Week.
- Post some of the materials from Anti-poverty Week in your service newsletter, on a Facebook page or a bulletin board to raise awareness of the Week and ways that your team, family and parent community or nearby businesses and schools can get involved.
- Organise a small fund-raiser—a healthy afternoon tea, an event with the children in your educational setting, a game or some other activity—to help raise funds for an organisation that helps disadvantaged people.
- Find an event in your local area, post an article or blog or arrange a speaker on poverty issues for your early childhood organisation.
- Talk with the children in your school or early learning setting. Find ways to discuss how to make a difference. You can start with reading a picture book (here are 14 children’s picture books that offer opportunities to explore homelessness and the kindness we’re capable of from Humane Education), watch a video, make some art or work with the children to write a letter to their local member. (To volunteer yourself or as part of a team here are some ideas: www.volunteeringaustralia.org.)
- Join in an Anti-Poverty Week activity which someone else is organising (see the calendar of activities at www.antipovertyweek.org.au)
- Start making regular donations to charities and ask friends and workmates to do the same (or agree to exchange presents in future by making donations on behalf of each other).
- Write a letter to your local paper or MP about some aspect of poverty or other hardship that concerns you.
- Talk to local businesses about ways to provide a discount or free offer during the Week that supports families with children or people living on low incomes.
Adapted from Ten things you can do in Anti-poverty Week.