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"The social impact of this program has been outstanding. It has lead to a marked improvement in school attendance. Chronic late arrivals are now here before school and many behaviours we experienced because children were coming to school hungry have disappeared."

Stephen Stobbs Welfare Teacher Claymore Public School

History

Daystar Foundation opened its doors to support the children and youth of South West Sydney in 2001.

Founder Kingi Williams, a local Campbelltown community member, had become increasingly concerned at the growing number of young people not engaging in their schools and community. Aware of the harsh statistics regarding the emotional, social and financial problems facing young people in our society, Kingi felt compelled to act, and so Daystar was born.

To understand the need for Daystar’s work, it helps to be aware that almost half of Australia’s homeless are under 25 years, including 10,000 children under 12 years and 26,000 aged between 12 and 18 years. The latest available estimates from the Australian Bureau of Statistics suggest that 750,000 children, or 15 percent of all Australian children, live in poverty. Most come from jobless families. Figures such as these reflect a breakdown in society, with the effects felt in most schools in Australia. In addition to homelessness and poverty, the everyday problems faced by these children also include:

  • Bullying
  • Depression
  • Suicide
  • Juvenile crime
  • Loneliness
  • Domestic violence and sexual abuse
  • Family breakdowns and lack of father figure
  • Low self esteem and loss of identity
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Isolation due to physical and mental disabilities

Faced with such problems, the academic performance and hence, future potential of these young people suffers greatly. Several comprehensive research studies present data on the educational performance of children from disadvantaged backgrounds. It is clear from these studies that such children are more likely to exhibit the following patterns in terms of educational performance:

  • Lower levels of literacy, numeracy and comprehension
  • Lower retention rates (leave school earlier)
  • Lower participation rates (less likely to attend university)
  • Higher levels of problematic school behaviour (e.g. truancy)
  • More likely to have difficulties with their studies and display negative attitude towards school
  • Less successful transition to labour market

The academic and social problems facing these young people are taken with them as they enter adulthood, leading to further negative behaviour and costs to society. The Canadian Institute of Child Research found that for every $1 invested in child health and development, $7 is saved on future costs such as welfare dependency, health care, rehabilitation, education, family services, justice etc. Without such investment, problems and social behaviours are passed down to the next generation. Daystar is committed to action to break this destructive cycle and to give our young people the opportunity for a better future.

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