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[tweetmeme only_single=false]October 17-22 is anti-poverty week – an Australian expansion of the UN’s annual International Anti-Poverty Day created to strengthen public understanding of poverty, and encourage individuals, organisations and governments to take action to address it.

In Australia poverty and severe hardship affect more than a million people, while around the world more than one billion people are desperately poor.*

what can I do?
If you want to contribute to change, this week is your opportunity to get involved by organising an activity or joining in one that is already planned. The activity can be as big or small as you like – it’s only limited by your imagination.

Some ideas are to:

• Write a letter to your newspaper or MP
• Organise a film night to focus on issues of poverty
• Hold a meal with friends to discuss issues of poverty
• Hold a fund-raiser at work
• Blog or write about issues of poverty
• Set-up an anti-poverty display at work, school, or library
• Donate or volunteer to a charity that helps reduce poverty

Or to join in an activity near you click here

beyond anti-poverty week
If helping reduce poverty is important to you, there are plenty of things you can do on an ongoing basis from volunteering, making regular donations, campaigning or even setting up a trust or foundation in your Will. Click here for more details.

Don youngcare thongs this weekend to fight for young care for young people

[tweetmeme only_single=false]Right now there are 6,500 young people with high care needs living in aged care facilities* simply because there are very limited alternatives. A further 700,000 young people are cared for at home by family and friends.**

John Tassone is one such person. At the age of 15 he had a devastating rugby league accident, resulting in quadriplegia. He is now reliant on family and friends for all his care needs, meaning he isn’t always able to live the independent, young life others his age take for granted. You can read his story here on MamaMia’s blog.

But donning thongs this long weekend could make a difference.

Today (and extending over the weekend) is youngcare Thong Day – an opportunity to help people like John by donating to and spreading awareness for youngcare, an organisation fighting for the rights of young people like John to live young lives.

Youngcare CEO Marina Vit said youngcare is delighted by the incredible support across the country, with hundreds of individuals and businesses supporting the charity by purchasing youngcare thongs or hosting their own ‘Thong-a-Thons’ at work and at home.

“Thongs represent youth, freedom, fun and an Australian way of life, all things that young people deserve to experience, regardless of their care needs. Each person supporting Thong Day this weekend is making an invaluable contribution to the lives of young Australians with full time care needs.”

To find out where to buy youngcare thongs in your area or donate directly to youngcare visit

*The Senate Community Affairs Committee 2005 **Australian Institute of Health and Welfare 2007

Big and little sister, Megan and Diane

[tweetmeme single_only= false Churchill once said “We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.” And one of the best ways to give back to your industry or community is to become a mentor. 

A mentor is a coach who helps guide a younger or less-experienced person through their career, schooling, or life, by listening and encouraging. While this often happens organically, there are also a range of mentoring programs you can join if you feel you have something to offer. 

Mentoring programs come in all shapes and sizes, so you can choose a program that suits your area of expertise, your interests and values. Here are some ideas to help you get started: 

SHINE for Kids offers a mentoring program for children between the ages of 8 to 17 years old with a parent in the criminal justice system. The program allows children to develop positive relationships with adult role models, providing consistency and stability without intruding into their own family structure. Mentors should be willing to meet with a child on a fortnightly basis over an ongoing period of at least 12 months. Shine for Kids offers mentoring programs in Sydney, Central Western NSW and Melbourne. Click here for more details. 

Freeman and Adam from Big Brothers, Big Sisters, Melbourne

Big Brothers, Big Sisters has a mentoring program to reduce social isolation and improve self-esteem for disadvantaged young people. The aim is to enable young people to reach their potential through the development of a trusting friendship with an adult mentor. Mentors must be willing to meet-up with their youths one hour a week for a minimum of 12 months. Big Brothers, Big Sisters has programs in Melbourne, Wangaratta, Geelong, Adelaide, Perth, Sydney and Brisbane.  Click here for more details. 

iTrack is a Smith Family initiative to support and inform senior high school students who are beginning to formulate their post-school plans, by pairing them with active members of the workforce. Mentors provide advice and encouragement over the course of two terms, with the majority of the interaction occurring online. iTrack is currently operating in NSW, VIC, QLD, SA and WA. For more information on it or any other Smith Family mentoring programs click here. 

There are also mentoring programs for refugees, carers, children at risk of leaving school and disabled people, among others. To find more youth mentoring programs, the Australian Youth Mentoring Network website has a nation-wide search tool.

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Isabel and Noah, Assistance Dogs Australia

 Ever wanted a pet but not sure you can commit to a full fourteen years? Puppy raising is a great way to enjoy the companionship of a dog while also helping someone with a disability lead a more independent life. 

 “Raising a puppy lets you give back to the community with the added bonus of the pitter pattering of puppy paws,” says Cherie Bekker, K9 Manager at Assistance Dogs Australia. 

Puppy raising involves having a puppy in your home for around sixteen months to help condition and socialise them before they undergo intensive training. Once placed, these dogs will help their owners with everyday tasks such as opening doors, pressing the button to cross the road and picking up dropped items. But most of all they will offer them a form of confidence and independence. 

Click here for a video of the Assistant Dogs Australia’s pups in action. 

 “Puppy raisers and sitters will teach these pups to undertake tasks that are difficult or even impossible for people with physical disabilities to achieve. They’ll teach them to pick up all sorts of objects such as mobile phones and keys and make sure they are able to alert bark when required,” says Cherie. 

 “You can also take the pups to the shops, cafes, on public transport and even to the cinema as it is all these experiences that will help them become an Assistance Dog,” she adds. 

 “But the best part of being a puppy raiser or sitter is helping to change someone’s life by training a fantastic Assistance Dog,” says Cherie. “To see the impact these dogs make on their recipients is priceless.” 

Awaiting a good home

To be a puppy raiser with Assistant Dogs Australia, you need to be not working fulltime, have no children under school age, have a suitable secure yard, and be willing to have an inside dog. In return, they will pay for all major expenses like food, vet bills, heartworm, and flea control. And if go on holidays, another committed volunteer will look after your pup. 

If you don’t want to commit to sixteen months but would still like to help out, you could become a puppy sitter (looking after someone’s pup while they are on holidays), a puppy socialiser (having puppies for the first 4-8 weeks), or a puppy bed and breakfast (taking care of adult dogs in need of downtime). 

Assistant Dogs Australia is currently looking for raisers and sitters in: 

  • Sydney
  • Wagga Wagga
  • Port Maquarie and Huntington areas NSW
  • Melbourne
  • Mornington Peninsular, Victoria
  • Perth
  • Brisbane

Visit their website here or call 1800 688 364. 

Alternatively if you’re interested in raising dogs for blind or visually impaired people, you could contact Guide Dogs Australia in your state: 

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