Learn about the students and families who benefit from our support…
In 2006, Karen Murphy was made to face life as a single parent to her four children following the breakdown of her tumultuous marriage. With a mortgage to pay and bills accumulating, the Sydney-based mother struggled to provide for her family and grew deeply concerned about her children’s futures. In 2011, she applied to A Start in Life for support. It was then that our experienced and dedicated Student & Family Management team stepped in to help.
Working together with the Murphy family, we were able to identify the individual barriers to the four children’s education and developed a tailored plan to help them overcome these. Over the past three years, we have supported the family with not only school fees, books and uniforms, but also with internet connection, a computer, tutoring, school camps, sports and music lessons. A Start in Life believes that an education is, after all, a total package that includes social and extra-curricular activities, in addition to academic pursuits.
The Murphy children have flourished with this support, each demonstrating significant improvement in their academic endeavours and succeeding in their extra-curricular activities. Last year, 14-year-old Trent received an award for outstanding academic achievement across the curriculum, despite struggling with confidence issues stemming from years of family violence. Younger brother Aiden, aged 11, was recently selected for his school’s representative cricket team and voted Vice House Captain by his peers. 9-year-old Stanley won an award for all-round achievement at school last year, whilst twin sister Alice won a sports award and has shown consistent improvement in all of her subjects.
For Ms. Murphy, the support of A Start in Life has meant that her children have the same opportunities as their peers to benefit from a well-rounded education, which the family could otherwise not afford. “The help has been invaluable and very much appreciated,” she said. “The children would not have as many opportunities if they did not have your support. We are very grateful.”
Many of our tertiary students need to move away from home to pursue a university education. Along with the emotional stresses of relocating away from family, these students are also burdened by the extra accommodation and living expenses, as well as the cumbersome costs of tertiary education essentials. These students may also see an increase in course fees under the 2014/15 Higher Education Reform measures, as Commonwealth subsidies are set to be reduced. Indeed, if it were not for the support of A Start in Life, many of these students could not afford to access a higher education and reach their potential.
In 2012, Jane Houston applied to A Start in Life for assistance. In her second year of a Bachelor of Early Childhood and Primary Teaching degree, Jane found herself under great financial strain. She had moved away from her family home to begin her studies and, supporting herself independently, had to work two part-time jobs in order to get by. However, with compulsory full-time student placements coming up, Jane would not have been able to continue her part-time work and earn the money required to support herself. She was contemplating withdrawing from her studies, before she found A Start in Life.
A Start in Life was able to assist Jane with the costs of her tertiary education. We were able to help her pay rent and utilities bills whilst she undertook her student placements, and assisted her with the costs of educational essentials, such as requisite course textbooks. With our support, Jane has been able to continue studying and will graduate as a qualified teacher at the end of this year.
“The help from A Start in Life has helped me follow my dreams to become a teacher. Without your support I could not afford to study. Because of you, I am about to finish my degree and have a job that I love to do. Thank you so much,” said Jane. “I am so grateful and lucky. I will encourage others to apply to you and hopefully one day I can give back to you.”
Ben was first referred to A Start in Life last Christmas. At just 15 Ben was a carer to his father who had become incapacitated due to a debilitating illness and had lost his job because of health problems. After the bills were paid there was nothing left to cover education essentials. So Ben was missing out on the educational opportunities that others take for granted.
Our team of experienced case workers assessed the family’s financial circumstances to understand the barriers Ben would need to overcome to have the same learning advantages as his peers.
Thanks to the generous support of people like you, we could then step in with the specialised support to turn Ben’s life around. This has included providing a computer and internet connection, so he can complete his required school assignments and study. We have also organised Mathematics tutoring as this was an area where Ben was struggling. The assistance has had a remarkable impact if this deserving young man’s life.
Just look at what Ben’s teacher write about his amazing progress in a recent school report.
“Ben is a conscientious and motivated student who has achieved outstanding results in Mathematics this semester. He has shown dedication and diligence in his approach to completing set work and should be commended for the effort he has put in.”
Ben’s father and our case workers have also noticed and increase in his self-confidence and willingness to learn and achieve.
“Ben’s father expressed his gratitude in a recent thank-you letter to A Start in Life:
I thank you for all the help and joy that you have brought us both and the smile you have put on my son’s face.”
Only through the goodwill and generosity of supporters like you, can A Start in Life keep giving young people like Ben the opportunity to overcome their barriers to education and rise above their initial circumstances.
Ben’s story shows the incredible difference possible from help given at the right time. Please help more students like Ben by making a generous donation to A Start in Life.
Help a student like Len reach his full potential.
The Barnes Family
The past decade has been a tough one for Mandy and Sam Barnes, hay makers in the remote area of Hay, located on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River. There was some relief last year after 10 years of drought; however with it came plagues of mice and locusts having a serious impact on the farms around the area. The cost of educating 3 children has been another burden.
“Without the help from A Start in Life, we would be really struggling. We’re just so grateful; the charity has picked us up and relived us of that extra financial burden. The kids are happy and so are we. We consider ourselves very lucky.”
Donate and help support families like the Barnes Family.
Len came from a small country town with a population of 460. He moved over 300km from home to attend university in Canberra. He came to university with a small amount of savings, but the cost of relocating away from home was expensive.
“My parents are farmers and have suffered years of drought and now two flood seasons. My parents are helping me pay my rent, but they have their own financial pressure”
Len is now supported by A Start in Life. This support has taken a huge amount of pressure from Len and he is now able to focus on his studies. Deb, our student liaison coordinator recently caught up with Len in Canberra to see how the support has helped Len.
“The support from A Start in Life has taken a huge amount of financial pressure from my family.”
Help a student like Len reach his full potential.
Due to emotional and financial issues with family, Tim has had to pay his own way through his secondary education working long hours.
“This wasted time that should have been spent studying but my mother and I could not afford for me not to spend that time working.”
With the support of ASIL Tim will be able to focus all his time on studying and continue with his high distinction/credit average in his chosen course of Aerospace Engineering.
Support Students like Tim.
“I grew up in rural NSW in a single income family. During my final year of High school I was told about A Start in Life and encouraged to apply for support. Heading to university I was expecting to have a lot of expenses and with the included optical bills for Irlen lenses for my dyslexia. The gift from A Start in Life has supported me since moving to Newcastle to study for a Bachelor of Psychology, providing me with the money to buy textbooks, a new printer, ink cartridges as well as helping to cover unexpected medical costs for the doctors and chiropractor. Without the support from A Start in Life I would not have been able to continue full time studying. Once I am working, I would like to give back to A Start in Life enabling them to support other students in need.
I’d like to thank the whole team for helping me over these past few months. It has been a major assistance and I am very moved and very lucky. I can’t imagine how much more difficult my university studies would have been without your help and I am immensely grateful. It is truly amazing to look back at the time when I first started university at the beginning of the year and remember how afraid I was that I would not only run out of money and not be able to afford to live in a new big city, but I would also suffer in my schooling for not having access to a computer. The stress that you and your team have lifted from my shoulders is immense and I can’t describe in words how lucky you have made me feel”.
Support a student like Ellen.