Breaking the cycle of disadvantage

By: yourtown 11 Jan 2019 Kids Helpline, Parentline, Family & Community Services, Young People Services, yourtown Organisation News

What is intergenerational disadvantage and how can we tackle it?

Intergenerational disadvantage is when a set of challenging circumstances continues to confront an individual, family or community from one generation to the next.

These challenges may include things like poverty, mental health issues, low parental education and employment, drugs and alcohol, trauma, troubles with the law, and family violence.

Sometimes several of these circumstances will be present at the same time.

Being in a situation of disadvantage often goes hand-in-hand with not having the support needed to change things. For example, having plenty of money can mean you can afford good mental health care, whereas poverty can mean mental health issues go unsupported and get worse, leading to further problems.

For children, poverty can negatively affect their ability to do well at school, leading to fewer employment options, which can result in similar disadvantages being passed to their own children.

How we advocate for change

Recently we presented a submission to the Australian Government's Select Committee on Intergenerational Welfare Dependence.

In it we illustrated the principles and approaches that we take in the delivery of support services to children and young people with the aim of disrupting intergenerational disadvantage.

Read our submission here.

We do not believe that Government, by delivering piecemeal and disjointed welfare, will be able to effectively support individuals, families and communities to break free from deep and persistent disadvantage.

As past decades have shown, this approach simply cannot work, with systems unable to see or accommodate the holistic, complex and interrelated needs of those 'trapped'.

No quick fix

The cycle of disadvantage is complex, and through our work with children and young people we know there is no single remedy or quick fix. It's going to take many different interventions to tackle the problem. These will include:

  • A whole family approach – recognising the important role of parents as ‘first teachers’, and of the community in supporting opportunities for individuals
  • Early intervention – preventing negative life outcomes and cycles by appropriately assessing people at risk, and developing support services to meet their needs
  • The importance of education – recognising that students at risk of disengaging from school need support that keeps the doors open to learning
  • Relationship-based, holistic and intensive case management support – overcoming the trust issues that disadvantaged children can have with adults and formal services
  • Culturally appropriate solutions designed and led by Indigenous communities – supporting Indigenous communities to devise and lead their own solutions   
  • A whole of government approach – using processes such as locally developed strategies to overcome the barriers between departments

Critically, these interventions must be developed along with the children, families and communities they seek to support. This is the best way to effectively accommodate their needs, and help to break the cycle of disadvantage.

How is yourtown making a difference?

yourtown supports young people in many ways that help them to break free from cycles of disadvantage. These include:

  • developing their job skills and finding work
  • supporting them into suitable housing
  • accessing parenting support
  • tackling mental health issues
  • helping them escape domestic and family violence
  • developing help-seeking skills

This support comes in the form of both face-to-face and virtual support services to disadvantaged children, young people and young families across the country.

You can help

We rely on community support - your support - to help fund the services we provide to children, young people and families.

Your donation can help us to break the cycle of disadvantage.

About yourtown...

We’re a community funded organisation that tackles issues like youth unemployment and mental health, and take on issues like domestic and family violence. 


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