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Every Chance for Every Child

Recently I attended the Every Chance for Every Child workshop presentation by Nigel Richardson who led the City of Leeds in the UK to become a Child Friendly City. Leeds is a bit smaller than Adelaide with a population of 900,000 but the results achieved are a compelling challenge to Adelaide where Child Protection issues have been so prominent in recent times.

However, my thoughts were that when we talk of Adelaide we really have three cities – the thriving inner Adelaide, the growing South and the struggling North. The regions are another story altogether.

I now live in the leafy suburbs of inner Adelaide and, other than a neighbour who works at Holden’s, you can see people are doing ok. But I know it is a totally different story in the north. I was born at the Lyell McEwin Hospital, grew up and lived in Salisbury and first job was at the Commonwealth Bank at Elizabeth.

I am again working in the north, the heart land of United Way SA. Unemployment in the north at 8.7% is higher than any other region in SA with youth unemployment sitting at 17.8%. All the research shows that education is not only the key to getting a job but also the amount of pay a worker earns.

Our work with early childhood reading through the United We Read program didn’t start in Elizabeth by accident. The Australian Early-childhood Development Census shows that 16 of the 32 suburbs where children aren’t ready to start school are in the north.

We need to see every child in the north get every chance to fulfill their potential. United Way SA will continue to do our bit but it must be a concerted effort by all service providers and governments at all levels working together. If we just start with each local council areas being Child Friendly Cities we might see the results in Leeds replicated in Adelaide.

Greg Franks, Chief Executive, United Way SA

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