Compounding challenges for families living in disadvantage
“The pandemic has confirmed the need for the whole community to work together to tackle issues of equity and disadvantage.” – Dr Lisa O’Brien
As Australia builds towards a post-pandemic recovery and students return to school for 2021, Australia’s largest children’s education charity, The Smith Family has highlighted significant ongoing concerns around the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on students and families experiencing disadvantage.
These findings, published in the organisation’s second Insights Snapshot, brought together observations from families, schools and Smith Family teams on the ground in some of Australia’s most disadvantaged communities. They reveal the capacity of children and young people to continue their schoolwork in a year of disruption and uncertainty. It is a complex picture.
"COVID-19 has exacerbated already challenging and stressful circumstances for our families and students. Further targeted learning support will be vital to keep young people engaged in their learning," said the Chief Executive Officer of The Smith Family Dr Lisa O’Brien.
"Senior secondary students, for example, are faced with a rapidly changing landscape for post-school options. We’re worried about their future career prospects, especially for students from low income families, who tend to have more limited labour market knowledge and far fewer industry connections and opportunities," said Dr O'Brien. "We are incredibly grateful to ANZ for the support they have offered our students through our digital Work Inspiration program in 2020. The pandemic has confirmed the need for the whole community to work together to tackle issues of equity and disadvantage."
For ANZ, a key initiative keeping our teams connected with the community in 2020 involved working with The Smith Family to implement a digitised version of the Work Inspiration program. This business-led initiative provides young people with opportunities to experience the world of work first-hand. Work Inspiration facilitates safe and engaging spaces to gain perspectives about the world of work. It provides an opportunity for students to learn first-hand about various professional roles, enabling them to make more informed decisions about future career pathways.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the inability to run school excursions meant around 1,400 students who The Smith Family supports were at risk of forfeiting this unique opportunity.To enable the continuation of the program, giving students an equally safe, inspiring and engaging experience with employees and organisations, The Smith Family worked with organisations like ANZ to take the Work Inspiration program online.
“What a privilege it was to work with ANZ to bring together the digital Work Inspiration program for our students,” said Judy Barraclough, Head of Strategy and Philanthropy, The Smith Family. “This program is potentially life-changing for these young people, giving them increased confidence and motivation for their futures. The fresh and engaging way that the ANZ team interacted with the students created a wonderful environment for learning. Thank you to ANZ for the willingness to evolve and deliver the program in a digital format, and most importantly for the dedicated way they connected with our students to inspire hope for the future.”
Inspiring the Next Generation
A three-day digital Work Inspiration program was led by ANZ’s Treasury team in partnership with The Smith Family. As a large employer, ANZ has a significant role in helping this generation see the potential work pathways that lie ahead for them. Attending students gained first-hand experience of what a career at ANZ might look like and participated in practical online workshops developing their communication and presentation skills. The students accessed virtual sessions with senior leaders who reflected on their careers and answered career-related questions.
On Wednesday 25 November 2020, The Smith Family and ANZ was awarded Silver in the ‘Most Innovative Charity and Employer Partnership’ category at the 2020 Workplace Giving Excellence Awards, highlighting our shared value approach to enhancing the financial wellbeing of Australians in need.
Pandemic exposes digital divide