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7RE - Social Justice Research Task: Home

This guide contains resources related to social justice issues including poverty, homelessness, refugees and education.


Not all children get an equal start in life.

Today, one in seven Australian children and young people are living in poverty*, where even life's basics are hard to come by. 

When families are experiencing financial disadvantage children can fall behind with their learning, leaving them more vulnerable to experiencing hardship themselves later in the life. 

Research shows children and young people living in disadvantage have access to fewer books and learning materials in the home. Access to support and resources forms the foundation for learning. In many cases, the parents of disadvantaged children may not have the skills or experience to support their child’s education. As these children get older, they have fewer role models, and access to mentors and networks that are critical for creating educational opportunities to help them build their aspirations and be motivated to learn.

The Smith Family, 2017.


A refugee is a person who has fled his or her own country and cannot return due to fear of persecution, and has been given refugee status. Refugee status is given to applicants by the United Nations or by a third party country, such as Australia.

According to the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, a refugee is a person who is:

  • outside their own country and
  • has a well-founded fear of persecution due to his/ her race, religion, nationality, member of a particular social group or political opinion, and is
  • unable or unwilling to return.

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) estimated that at the end of 2012 there were 15.4 million refugees in the world.

Road to Refuge, 2017.


People experiencing homelessness include those who sleep rough on the streets or under makeshift dwellings. Although people who sleep rough are most visible to the public, they only represent 6% of the homeless population.

  • Women, young people and families staying in refuges or crisis accommodation or who move from one temporary accommodation to another are also considered to be homeless.
  • Then there are Australians of all ages who ‘couch surf’ or stay with friends and family for limited periods of time. Some people also stay in cheap hotels or even in their cars.
  • People living in severely overcrowded dwellings or accommodation that falls well below basic community standards, such as boarding houses and caravan parks, can also be considered to be homeless.

Mission Australia, 2017.


Poverty is a direct barrier to education. Approximately half the world’s population lives on less than $2 per day and many are too busy struggling to survive to consider education a priority. Without money, families are unable to send their children to school or afford uniforms and books. A lack of education also increases the likelihood that children won’t have access to clean water and sanitation, and be more susceptible to malnutrition and sickness.

A free primary education is a human right, yet many countries continue to charge school fees. Poverty, government inaction and practical considerations such as having to work to support their families means that many children never attend or do not complete even a primary education. Girls in particular are kept at home to look after their siblings, help with chores or fetch water, which is often many hours from home.  

Conflict often means that children are forced to flee their homes; it also makes travelling to and from school very dangerous. Even those lucky enough to attend are often taught by untrained teachers, sit in dilapidated classrooms and have to travel many hours to school and back.

Today 130 million children are illiterate, 75 percent of secondary school aged children in sub-Saharan Africa are not in school and 774 million adults don’t have basic literacy skills.

Caritas Australia, 2017.