Young Australians tackle poverty  

elly hunter

Many young Australians are passionate about making a difference in the world. Connections UnitingCare’s Anti-Poverty Awards recognise and support young people tackling poverty in Australia and abroad.

Now in its 11th year, the awards are open to Australians between the ages of 16 and 30.

Applications received so far cover a range of initiatives, including microfinance, disaster relief and education programs.

One of the nominees is Elly Hunter, director of Project Outward. Project Outward is a non-profit organisation that seeks to transform the lives of women in Uganda.

The Project Outward team is made up of five young women from Bendigo. They design t-shirts and bags which are sold to the general public. The money generated from the sales is invested into no-interest loans and skills training to help women in Uganda set up their own business.

The idea for Project Outward began in 2012 when Ms Hunter visited Uganda. She witnessed widespread poverty resulting from 25 years of civil war and wanted to do something about it.

In February this year, Ms Hunter and four of her friends officially launched Project Outward. The team visited Uganda in June, where they established a local unit to manage the microfinance operations.

Women are ideal candidates for microfinance. They have a high repayment rate and typically spend their income on improving the welfare of the whole family.

“By funding women to become financially independent, Project Outward empowers women to raise themselves and their families out of the cycle of poverty,” the team said in their application.

“Project Outward is offering women more than a hand out, it’s offering them a hand up.”

The team’s initial goal was to assist 15 women. However, the project was so successful that it has already helped 50 women start their own business.

Schools throughout Australia are also engaging in creative and innovative projects to address inequality.

Every year, Parklands Christian College fundraises more than $10,000 to build and maintain a school in Cambodia. Their campaign has a specific focus on educating students about human trafficking in the South East Asian nation.

“Our program focuses on helping our college and wider college community understand the conditions that cause poverty and its insidious repercussions,” the school said in their application.

“In particular, our students speak out against human trafficking and help one village in Cambodia improve their living conditions in an effort to bring hope and a future.

“Our students are changed forever, and a little joy is planted in the lives of Cambodian children, keeping their village less vulnerable to traffickers.”

These two initiatives are just a snapshot of the projects young Australians are doing to address poverty and inequality. Other applications include a project that trains female entrepreneurs in Cambodia, a high tea that raises funds to combat modern slavery and a non-profit organisation rebuilding communities in Vanuatu.

Visit the Anti-Poverty Awards website to see all the applications and cast your vote for your favourite project. The winning recipient will receive a grant of up to $4000 to fund their project and encouragement awards of up to $1000 may also be offered.

If you know someone who might be eligible for an award, you can nominate them here. Applications close 31 August 2015.

The winners will be presented with their award at a ceremony in Melbourne during Anti-Poverty Week on 11-17 October.

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