Healthy Kids Guide

Our work with Vinnies

After almost two years of disrupted learning, Australian students are starting the new year back in the classroom. But vulnerable young people still face many challenges*.

At this time of the year as children across Australia begin their new school year, our thoughts turn to the children we assist daily. Across Australia, we see students struggle to start the day with a good breakfast, a uniform that fits, school shoes, and access to reliable technology.

Having these barriers before the school day even begins, means Australian students experiencing disadvantage are drastically falling behind their peers in literary and numeracy skills**.

The long lockdown of the pandemic has made it even harder for learning. For many students, it’s the loss of social connection and, often, the difficulties at home and other pressures of today that can make returning to school so difficult.

That’s where our volunteers make such a difference.

In Australia, Vinnies supports students in several different ways. Firstly, there is practical assistance with ensuring students have the necessary equipment and resources to participate in their schooling. Secondly, there is education support, provided through our Education Programs. 

Nine-year-old Hayma***, is one such student who came to us to help keep her connected during a long, challenging period where connections were so vital. Hayma needed to be connected – with her peers, and with learning by having the equipment she needed to do her school work. Hayma received support from Vinnies with 1:1 engagement from our volunteer tutors and provided a device to enable her to learn from home during the pandemic.

Our volunteers know that for a child to thrive they require resources, such as laptops, writing materials, books. They also need to fit in socially, such as having the proper uniform and the choice to be part of extracurricular activities. Finally, no young mind can learn without good nutrition and Vinnies also provides food to hungry families through our home visitation programs.

Last year, leading up to Christmas, our call centre volunteers told us about growing requests for education assistance.

The last two years have been challenging. Many Australian’s have endured long lockdowns, unsettling routines, and restricted access to external support causing increased stress and anxiety for vulnerable families.

Children living in poverty who are already struggling to get an equal education are at risk of falling further behind because they don’t all begin the school year on equal footing.

* Learning First: The experience of remote and flexible learning in Victoria”: July 2020, findings from Engage Victoria: an online Victorian Government survey.

** An analysis of the 2021 NAPLAN results by the Grattan Institute.

*** Pseudonym used to protect the child’s identity.