As a high-income, well-educated and well-resourced community, the social disadvantage of Canberra’s 8,000 children from low-income households can sometimes be overlooked and with the new school year ramping up, so too can the costs.
In response, the national charity GIVIT is calling for community donations to ensure our vulnerable children have everything they need to be happy, healthy and confident at school.
GIVIT ACT engagement coordinator, Kristi Clark, said without the basic supplies such as uniforms, shoes, workbooks, lunchboxes and various technology, children can suffer mentally and emotionally in the classroom.
“Showing up on day one without a backpack, lunchbox or an adequate pair of shoes leaves them with the feeling of exclusion, isolation and increased anxiety,” she said.
“Something as simple as a lunchbox sets a child up for success with the nourishment they need to learn and grow.
“Thousands of children in the ACT go hungry every day. A family receiving a lunchbox and bag as a donation means more funds are available to fill that bag with nourishing food.”
Ms Clark said despite the ACT’s relatively stable economy during the coronavirus recession, the Capital Region still faced an increased need for support and GIVIT were bracing themselves for the impending lowering of welfare payments.
On the GIVIT website, there are over 1,000 items needed for disadvantaged Canberra families facing various complex factors of poverty.
Ms Clark said some of the most in need were international students and non-citizens ineligible for government support and single parents living in transitional housing after escaping domestic violence, which has increased during the recession.
Among GIVIT’s clients was an Indigenous family with five children who were struggling to make ends meet.
“This indigenous family have a complex past and have thrived even when they have been faced with many challenges,” Ms Clark said.
“The parents have mental illness and strive to ensure their children (aged between 12 and 16) attend school and maintain their education.
“Their children would appreciate assistance with school uniforms and book packs. As they attend different schools across Canberra, a large percentage of their income is used in petrol and the reminder of the Centrelink payments cover rent and utilities with no spare change.”
GIVIT are taking donations until the end of February, through the website or suitable items can be dropped off at the ACT offices of their partner, LJ Hooker.
Visit givit.org.au/back-to-school to find out more.
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