Helping youth to make ‘a go of it’

The Smith Family has called on the Latrobe Valley community to support local programs aimed at disadvantaged youth, by donating to the charity’s winter appeal.

Victorian general manager Anton Leschen said the team operating the Learning for Life program in Morwell provided scholarships, evidence-based programs and support workers to help children stay and succeed at school.

“The Latrobe Valley is one of the significant places in which The Smith Family works – and that’s a combination of need that people face in the Valley and the strength and commitment from agencies, families and schools trying to make a go of it,” Mr Leschen said.

He said access to what many students took for granted could make a big difference in whether a child fell behind or kept up with their more advantaged peers.

“We help them to not miss out on what Australia thinks everybody gets, but not everybody gets school uniforms, schools excursions, stationery. Not everybody joins sport teams,” Mr Leschen said.

He said the Morwell team was complemented by a hub in Churchill, which brokered relationships between schools and agencies.

Mr Leschen said this ensured services were coordinated as best as possible so disadvantaged families knew what was available.

He said keeping students in the education system as long as possible and ensuring a transition into work was a preventative measure that benefited the whole community.

“It’s about safety railing at the top of the cliff, not ambulances at the bottom,” Mr Leschen said

“We know that in the long run, investing in our young people… it can make the Latrobe Valley a better place.”

He said the Learning for Life team had helped thousands of students during the 10 years it had operated in Morwell.

“We know our work is making a difference,” Mr Leschen said.

“We hope people can support us so we can keep it coming for many years to come.

“Changing lives is not a short term ambition. It can be really significant to the children with which we work and also the whole community.”