In 1987, then Prime Minister Bob Hawke made the infamous promise: “By 1990, no Australian child will be living in poverty.” Sadly, that promise remains unfulfilled with 1.2 million Australian children still living in poverty today – and now Australia is in recession.

Investigative journalist Adam Shand has taken a look at what is really happening in Australia and explores how education is playing a important role in helping break the poverty cycle.

Working closely with national children’s education charity The Smith Family, this two part feature podcast called Breaking Poverty, has Shand interview students, carers and The Smith Family CEO Dr Lisa O’Brien. Together, they discuss the effects of child poverty and the impact it has on education, mental health and the future of Australia’s youth – especially since the COVID-19 pandemic and concerns over increasing poverty in Australia.

The podcast demonstrates the positive effect that educational support can have on a child’s confidence and their mental, emotional and financial wellbeing. One of the stories features Melbourne-based student Emily, who has been supported by The Smith Family since 2006, when she was in Year four. After being given a hand up through The Smith Family’s Learning for Life program, Emily has been accepted into Melbourne Law School to follow her dream to become a human rights lawyer. 

Shand said: “When the COVID-19 support programs come to an end there will be a $31 billion hole in the national economy. Now is the time Australians need to support our children to get the best education possible and meet the challenges of the future. Many families need a hand up not a handout, an investment towards self-sufficiency and self-confidence.

“Everyone’s aspirations are the same. Children are adaptable, and this has been proven by COVID-19 and online learning. How do we address this? There is only so much the government can do; we need engagement from private donors.”

The Smith Family CEO, Dr Lisa O’Brien, said: “We’re thrilled to be launching our first ever podcast, Breaking Poverty, produced by PodcastOne Australia. With one in six Australian children and young people living in disadvantage even before the outbreak of COVID-19, this is a hard-hitting and necessary look at the problem of poverty, how it impacts our nation's young people, and why together we need to act to address this issue.”

“I often think about how fragile life is when I meet families living in disadvantage and hear their stories. Through this podcast, Australians can bear witness to those stories too. This year, more than any other, has showed us how it can be just one or two life events that can push people into poverty. 

“Our organisation has been working with children and families in need for nearly 100 years. We’re dedicated to helping them break the cycle of poverty through supporting young people’s education,” said Dr O’Brien

Listen to Breaking Poverty on PodcastOne Australia or wherever you download your podcast. 

About PodcastOne Australia:

PodcastOne Australia is the leading commercial podcast network operated by Southern Cross Austereo in partnership with PodcastOne US.

PodcastOne Australia is an advertiser- supported network that co-creates over 80 premium original domestic podcast titles, with 360-degree solutions including bespoke talent led advertising, branded content integration, branded podcast creation and distribution.

About The Smith Family
The Smith Family is a national children’s education charity helping young Australians in need to succeed at school, so they can create better futures for themselves. Visit