Disadvantaged Australian families are struggling to meet the costs of their children’s education, with school expenses for one child at primary school costing parents upwards of $2,000[1] a year, The Smith Family said today.
Annette Young, The Smith Family’s acting CEO, said the start of a new school year should be an exciting time for children but for those in struggling families, it’s often a time of great stress.
“Even if parents are spending conservatively, by the time they’ve purchased the school uniforms, the schoolbag, the shoes, the books, the stationery – and increasingly, the laptop or tablet – they’ve already spent hundreds of dollars before their child has stepped through the school gate. For families who are watching every cent, this is a huge expenditure,” said Ms Young.
With one in seven young Australians[2] growing up in poverty, Ms Young said the back to school period is one of the charity’s busiest times with families calling for education support – noting the costs of schooling expenses can be particularly challenging for families with two or more children and families with children transitioning from primary school to high school.
“Education essentials are simply out of reach for many struggling families. This can have a devastating impact on a child’s education – if they can’t afford the right uniform or the books they need, and feel as though they don’t fit in, school becomes a place they don’t want to be,” Ms Young said.
As a new school year begins, The Smith Family is asking people to consider sponsoring an Australian child to help with the cost of school essentials and access to out-of-school learning and mentoring programs.
“With the help of our partner schools, we’ve identified more than 4,000 children in financially stressed households who are urgently in need of a sponsor. Without extra help, these children are more likely to start school behind and stay behind.
“Sponsorship can start from the first year of primary school and continues throughout a child’s education journey. From just $1.60 a day, it’s not a huge amount of money but it says to that child you and your education are important.
“We know the future prospects for children from disadvantaged backgrounds improve with every completed year of schooling. Sponsorship helps ensure they have what they need to fit in at school, focus on their education and create a better future for themselves.
“We hear from the parents of our sponsored children time and again that this modest gesture of support makes an overwhelming difference to the outcomes for their children,” Ms Young said.
To sponsor a disadvantaged Australian child and support their education, visit thesmithfamily.com.au

How sponsorship works
Children sponsored through The Smith Family are helped in three ways:
· Financial assistance for education essentials, including books and uniforms.
· Targeted personal support from a Smith Family team member, who takes the time to understand the family’s specific needs, ensuring they receive the most appropriate assistance.
· Access to a range of out-of-school learning and mentoring programs, such as the student2student reading program and after-school Learning Clubs.
Key sponsorship stats[3]:
· Over 38,000 disadvantaged students currently sponsored through The Smith Family to help with their education – with another 4,208 students urgently in need of support.
· 91% average attendance rate for primary school students on the program – many of whom face significant personal challenges, including health or disability issues.
· Over the last five years The Smith Family’s sponsorship program has supported more than 8,500 students from the lowest socioeconomic backgrounds to complete Year 12.
· 4 in 5 students are engaged in work or further education a year after leaving the program.