Dr Craig Challen announced as new ambassador

We are thrilled to announce joint 2019 Australian of the Year Dr Craig Challen as The Smith Family’s new ambassador.

In July 2018, retired vet Dr Challen and anaesthetist Dr Richard Harris made worldwide headlines when they joined an international team to rescue a group of 12 boys and their soccer coach from a flooded cave in Chiang Rai, Thailand.

Dr Challen said he chose to partner with The Smith Family because he is passionate about education and the effect it can have on breaking the poverty cycle.

“I’m really delighted to be involved with The Smith Family as I’m a great admirer of the work they do and I believe a good education makes all the difference to a child’s future,” Dr Challen said.

“We have more than a million children and young people in Australia living below the poverty line today. These kids are much more likely to struggle at school and are at much greater risk of not completing their education.

“I want to use my time as Australian of the Year to encourage all parts of our community to do what’s right for our young people and take action to reduce child poverty in our country.

“Central to these efforts is supporting children to stay in school and get the most out of their education. Organisations like The Smith Family are leading the charge with programs that are helping disadvantaged students attend school more regularly, stay in school longer and go on to further study or work.”

Dr Lisa O'Brien and Dr Craig Challen

Dr Craig Challen

The Smith Family CEO Dr Lisa O’Brien thanked Dr Challen for his ambassadorship, adding that the Australian of the Year platform provides a unique opportunity to spearhead a national conversation about child poverty in Australia and the importance of education in creating better futures.

“Dr Challen is an inspirational Australian who led a heroic rescue to help children in need and we are thrilled to have him join us as an ambassador,” Dr O’Brien said.

“We look forward to him sharing his amazing story to inspire children and young people, and to highlight the importance of education in his own life and what it has helped him achieve.

“Dr Challen is also passionate about raising awareness of the extent and impact of child poverty in Australia. With one in six1 Australian children and young people living below the poverty line, this support is more critical than ever.

“The Smith Family partners with schools in areas where families are really doing it tough to identify children who would benefit from financial support and targeted learning programs,” Dr O’Brien added.

“Our sponsorship program is helping these students achieve better outcomes at school so they have the best possible chance of fulfilling their potential into the future.”

Davidson, P., Saunders, P., Bradbury, B. and Wong, M. (2018), Poverty in Australia, 2018. ACOSS/UNSW Poverty and Inequality Partnership Report No. 2, Sydney: ACOSS.