Published On: 16 October 2023Categories: Stories

Children are the focus of national Anti-Poverty Week/s from October 15 to 27.

Anti-Poverty Week reports about 1 in 6 Australian children are living in poverty, with around 20,000 of the most disadvantaged under 18s living in Tasmania.

Anti-Poverty Week exists to raise awareness around the causes and consequences of poverty. This year’s theme is to “end child poverty” which former Prime Minister Bob Hawke famously promised to do by 1990 when he launched Labor’s election campaign in 1987.

Various reports, from the Commissioner for Children and Young People and the UTAS Tasmania Project (Is Food Insecurity the New Normal in Tasmania?) have highlighted the disproportionate number of Tasmanian children and families living in poverty.

The UTAS Tasmania Project report says children, children living in single-parent families, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, and children living in families where there is disability, are among the poorest in the State.

Dropping off the Edge’s 2021 report says of Tasmania: “Disadvantage is disproportionately located in a small number of communities which experience high and persistent rates of family violence, prison contact, a lack of internet availability at home, and low incomes.”

Six of the 10 most disadvantaged communities are located around Hobart. The top 10, according to Dropping off the Edge, are Acton-Upper Burnie, Bridgewater-Gagebrook, East Devonport, Glenorchy, Mornington-Warrane, New Norfolk, Newnham-Mayfield, Ravenswood, Risdon Vale and Rokeby.

Other regional and rural areas doing it tough include the West and East Coasts, Scottsdale, Central Highlands, Sheffield, Railton, and Ulverstone, and the Central Midlands.

CEO of Loaves and Fishes Tasmania and Devonport Chaplaincy, Andrew Hillier, said the combination of food relief and chaplaincy were proving incredibly effective in fighting hunger and disadvantage.

“Our long-running school breakfast programs, many administered by school chaplains, and the new school lunch pilot in partnership with School Food Matters in 30 schools statewide are meeting the physical, social and emotional needs of thousands of children each week,” he said.

“Talking to children over a meal highlights some of the other personal and family problems they are experiencing. Chaplains, as part of the school care team, can then meet a child’s need or refer the child or family to someone else who can intervene.

“This has resulted in Loaves and Fishes supplying food hampers to families in crisis.”

Andrew said Loaves and Fishes fed around 16,000 people every week through bulk deliveries of fresh produce and ready made meals delivered statewide to hundreds of partner agencies.

“Part of the reason we started a second kitchen in Rokeby was to better serve those doing it tough in the south of the State,” he said.

“Loaves and Fishes is also committed to providing employment opportunities, many for younger people living in some of the most disadvantaged communities, through traineeships and apprenticeships.”

What can you do to support children

Some of the ways you can support children during Anti-Poverty Week and beyond, include:

Donating food or money to Loaves and Fishes

Donating money to support School Chaplains

Become a mentor or help out at a school breakfast program by contacting Devonport Chaplaincy on 6417 3175 or filling out an expression of interest.

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