Children across Australia have been deeply affected by the pandemic throughout 2020 and 2021.
Data released in August showed that calls to the Kids Helpline had risen by 30% in Victoria in the first six months of 2021 compared to the first six months of 2020. In NSW, calls were up by 14% over the same period. Alarmingly, these numbers do not factor in the latest lockdowns in both states.
In this context, Kooyong Group has begun a new partnership with Kids Hope Australia, a powerful community initiative that helps vulnerable children via regular mentoring sessions.
According to Kids Hope CEO Gail Cameron, there’s been a surge in demand for Kids Hope Australia’s mentoring programs in recent months as schoolteachers and parents deal with the demands of remote learning and the broader societal strain of the pandemic.
“The need is huge right now. Schools are reaching out and asking us for more mentors who can stay connected with kids during this really challenging time,” Cameron said.
Kooyong Group’s support will enable another school to access Kids Hope Australia’s programs, with the vulnerable children in that school able to access weekly one-to-one mentoring sessions that can significantly improve their self-esteem, self-confidence, and their interactions with others.
In a 2018 Monash University survey of Kids Hope Australia’s programs, 97% of teachers said they believed that the mentoring programs had a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of the mentored students.
The flow-on affects were similarly pronounced, with better behaviour, better academic results and more resilience shown by participants, Cameron said.
The 2018 survey also found that the mentoring sessions provided something for students to look forward to, which is especially important given that Kids Hope works with the most vulnerable children.
“We’ve set up a pen pal program as part of our COVID-19 initiatives. Given we work with vulnerable children, for whom school can often be a “happy place” and a haven, it’s so important to be providing alternate supports that can help to alleviate stress and pressure,” Cameron said.
Launching partnerships with organisations like Kooyong Group is a key part of expanding Kids Hope’s mission, she said.
“We’re so pleased to be partnering with Kooyong Group, especially given their outward-focus, their philanthropic values and their commitment to the mental health space.
“It’s so important now to be partnering with like-minded organisations, because of the growing mental health concerns we’re seeing because of COVID-19. Mental health disorders like anxiety and depression are emerging earlier and becoming embedded in primary schools, where there can be a lack of services. By partnering with organisations like Kooyong Group, we can provide early intervention and catch a generation at risk,” Cameron said.
Kooyong Group has provided philanthropic support for several initiatives that seek to boost mental health supports and raise awareness, including Australians for Mental Health, Hand-n-Hand, Black Dog Institute, and Beyond Blue.
Former CEO James Ostroburski said that the stress caused by the pandemic has created a dire situation that only serves as a reminder of how pressing the need for more action in the mental health space has become.
“The impact of the pandemic has been profound, especially on schoolkids who have missed lots of in-person learning over the past two years, as well as so many opportunities to build friendships and have fun. We hope that our contribution to Kid’s Hope can alleviate some of the challenges we’re seeing,” Ostroburski said.
Kid’s Hope Australia welcomes donations of all sizes, from businesses and individuals alike.
Find out more about their programs and how you can donate by visiting their website here.