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All Australian kids dream big

Children living in disadvantage are unaware of the harsh realities awaiting them, with a new poll showing all students share the same ambitions and dreams.

A thousand primary school students aged five to seven, from low and high socio-economic communities, were asked what they wanted to be when they grew up.

The top five most popular careers were policeman, vet, teacher, doctor and professional footballer, according to a survey conducted by The Smith Family, released on Monday.

Child psychologist Dr John Irvine said the similarities in responses indicated kids born into financial disadvantage were blissfully unaware of the difficulties lying in wait for them.

“Those living in disadvantage can encounter debilitating reality checks as they progress through their schooling,” he said.

“Many children from disadvantaged families arrive at school well behind in their learning and physical, social and emotional development. Research shows these children are more likely to drop out of school, experience unemployment, become teenage parents and suffer mental health problems.”

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, young people living in the most disadvantaged parts of Australia are far less likely to achieve their potential.

They are about 50 per cent less likely to be fully engaged in work or study, while only 47 per cent of people aged 20 to 24 from the bottom 10 per cent of the socio-economic ladder attain Year 12.

This compares with 83 per cent from the top 10 per cent.

“This vast inequality in the future prospects of disadvantaged students, compared with their more advantaged peers, is a slowly unfolding reality that needs to be addressed at the earliest opportunity with early and concerted intervention,” Irvine said.

The poll was released to coincide with the Smith Family’s winter appeal.

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