The Australian spirit is central to the efforts of these three Aussie charities, working tirelessly to lift others up and make a better tomorrow.
Story Dogs was established based on the popular American program, Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D). R.E.A.D was the first literacy program to show how children could learn by pairing up with pets.
In 2009, Story Dogs was launched by two Aussie women, with the aim of developing a fun and supportive reading environment for children who need literacy support, encouraging a lifelong love of learning. Every week, the Story Dog program helps more than 3310 kids in 391 schools across the country through tailored, individual sessions.
During a Story Dog session, children spend around 20 minutes in a quiet area of their school, reading alongside a dog team. The dog handler will prompt engagement with the text by speaking ‘through’ the dog, such as “Sam doesn’t understand what’s happening on this page. Can you explain it to him?” This develops literacy skills in a safe and non-judgemental way. The kids are also welcome to write letters to the dogs, enhancing their writing abilities alongside their reading skills. The program has been highly successful in promoting confidence in children, and helping them to relax.
Dog-owners with the relevant safety checks are encouraged to join the 649 dog teams already in the program. Animals are great reading buddies, as they promote relaxation, don’t criticise or laugh, and remain calm when in the child’s presence.
Founded in 2015, Dignity is committed to helping people at risk of, or experiencing, homelessness. Their wide range of programs includes providing temporary and permanent accommodation, employment support and food relief.
Since their inception, they have facilitated more than 95,000 nights of temporary accommodation and 460,000 meals. Their volunteers prepare and package 3,000 home-cooked meals monthly. They also run volunteer initiatives with schools and corporations to raise awareness about homelessness and debunk damaging myths in the community.
In 2022, Dignity launched Ready To Work Housing. 22 homeless individuals were offered safe housing for 12 months, a stable employment opportunity, and ongoing support from professionals. The participants were also provided a mobile phone, free clothes and food relief. Incredibly, 95 percent of participants secured employment within the first six weeks of the program.
The core values of Dignity are central to everything they do. These are: treating everyone with dignity, and ending homelessness through collaboration. For those wanting to support the charity, they are always looking for help in the kitchen, or in various other volunteer programs.
Red Dust is a Northern Territory based charity committed to improving the health and wellbeing of young Indigenous people and their families. In 2022, they ran 37 programs and engaged with 7,720 community members, all with the focus to improve wellbeing and reconciliation in remote areas.
“For more than 25 years Red Dust has been working with Indigenous youth and families, supporting them to walk confidently into a bright future. Working alongside Elders and remote Northern Territory communities we are redefining what success looks like, by harnessing the strengths of both ancient and modern cultures,” says Jonathan Lindsay-Tjapaltjarri Hermawan, Director of Male Health Programs and Strategic Lead.
The Healthy Living Program is a school initiative where community role models run interactive classroom modules to focus on nutrition, resilience and the importance of physical activity. The aim is to create better health outcomes by equipping students with knowledge.
Similarly, the Strong Young Men’s Program and the Strong Young Women’s Program deliver gender-specific advice to young people in remote communities. Both initiatives focus on cultural learning, peer led exercises and overall well being. They are provided both in language and in English.
As part of their support, Red Dust also offers Reconciliation Programs which focus on a genuine exchange of experiences and ideas between cultural groups. Organisations can opt to attend an on-country immersion trip, spending between 3 and 7 days learning about First Nations communities. Introductory courses act as a platform for developing cultural awareness as well, teaching participants about identity, history and acceptance.
To read about more incredible Aussie charities making their mark, click here.