More than 700 million people, or 10 per cent of the world population, still live in extreme poverty today, struggling to fulfil the most basic needs like health, education, and access to water and sanitation, to name a few.
– United Nations

Victoria University addresses global and local poverty through targeted research and practical local solutions.

Investigations conducted by our institutes and centres tackle the origins of poverty, identifying strategies to remedy issues such as unequal access to health and education.

Within the University, support for marginalised groups includes scholarships, academic-progression opportunities, and culturally safe spaces. Free food programs, crisis support funds and other practical assistance address short-term poverty in our University community.

 1 no poverty: icons of people

Research, engagement & education 2020-21

Research with impact

Our cross-disciplinary approach draws on the expertise of academic leaders to create solutions for today's social, economic, environmental and technological challenges.

Australia's Health Tracker series measures national progress on a range of health issues, including chronic disease, oral health, and mental health in Australian children and adults. These trackers are used by a range of policy-makers to inform decision-making at local, state and national level. Australia’s Health Tracker by Socioeconomic Status 2021 is produced by the Australian Health Policy Collaboration, led by VU’s Rosemary Calder of the Mitchell Institute, of over 50 health organisations and experts. The report card shows the relationship between low socio-economic status and higher risk for preventable chronic diseases and poor health.

Elizabeth Knight from the Centre for International Research on Education Systems and Emma Colvin from Charles Sturt University undertook the study Supporting Care Experienced Young People into Higher Education for the Collier Foundation. Care Experienced Young People are less likely to attain educational qualifications, less likely to have good health, and are more likely to have contact with the criminal justice and mental health systems. The report documents the: systemic lack of understanding of the needs of care-experienced students in higher education; significant gap in post-school transition planning; and the multiple barriers to accessing career information.

Emeritus Professor Robyn Broadbent wrote a report on building youth work practice. In the report Professor Broadbent emphasises the need for professional youth work practice to stay focused on poverty due to the intractable nature of intergenerational poverty and the and the barrier it poses to better life outcomes.

Annie Venville from VU teamed up with Sarah Booth from Western Health to assess the effectiveness of a 12-month pilot partnership program between social work staff at Western Health hospitals, and the Centrelink Community Engagement Officer, to improve access to income support for vulnerable hospital patients. The program saved time for the hospital social work staff and for patients, but further research is needed for the potential to for health and social care staff to deliver integrated psychosocial care to improve outcomes for vulnerable patients.

The Centre for International Research on Education Systems and the Mitchell Institute prepared a major report to inform educational policy. The report Educational opportunity in Australia 2020: Who succeeds and who misses out provides indicators to measure progress towards the national goals for education. The national data shows that the Australian education system is not bridging the gap between rich and poor in the crucial early years of learning, allowing cycles of poverty to continue.

The number of Australian children at risk due to family employment stress doubled in 2020 to 1.4m according to COVID-19, Employment stress and student vulnerability in Australia report by the Mitchell Institute. The report highlighted the need for urgent government action to prevent longterm damage to the education and work prospects of young people in communities suffering from COVID-19 related job loss.

Microfinance has become a means of addressing poverty, through small loans to poor people to fund ventures that will provide an income. A study of microfinancing in Indonesia found that to improve depth of outreach with a given level of sustainability, microfinance institutions should provide more loans with the group lending methodology.

Research on the economic impact of tourism in Uganda shows that while tourism serves to reduce poverty in the short run, the effect reduces in the long-run, and so further economic stimulus is necessary to break the cycle of poverty.


Our partnerships with local councils and community groups respond to local needs for skills, knowledge and learning.

The Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation partnership with Australian School Plus is one of their most significant grants, providing $11 million over eight years to support the Fair Education Program across NSW. The Centre for International Research on Education Systems (CIRES) conducted an independent evaluation of the program to determine its efficacy to address disadvantage in schooling and educational outcomes. The evaluation informed CIRES’ working paper “What is the potential for philanthropy to address inequality within disadvantaged schools?” which highlighted that philanthropy can provide disadvantaged schools more flexibility and support to engage with such programs. The effective educational interventions for disadvantaged schools can also inform government policy, funding and structural reforms to tackle inequality.

Victoria University’s Mitchell Institute was awarded a $5.5m grant by the Paul Ramsay Foundation to conduct a community-based research program in the west of Melbourne to improve the transition from school to further education and work. The program aims to break the cycle of poverty for young people from low socioeconomic backgrounds.


We offer a range of courses focused on reducing poverty by addressing social problems, human rights issues, social justice and social development.

The Master of International Community Development engages with the UN SDGs in the course learning outcomes and practice-based assessments, to prepare graduates to work on SDG projects and programs of implementation. The approach is one of critical engagement, interrogating intersectionality and social and cultural inclusion in the SDG targets and indicators.

Units focus on transformational change, including: transnational gender issues and human rights; conflict resolution in groups and communities; engaging communities for sustainability; building capacity and mobilising civil society, as well as project and organisational management. Students undertake a research thesis or a community-based research project arising out of a placement with a partner development agency or project in Australia or overseas.

The Bachelor of Youth Work is the largest in Australia and provides the skills to develop young people through enjoyable, challenging and educational activities. Diploma-qualified people already in the youth work industry can continue to work while they study with the online course.

Woman carrying a basket on her head through a market

Our study of microfinancing in Indonesia found that to improve depth of outreach with a given level of sustainability, microfinance institutions should provide more loans with the group lending methodology.

Sustainability on campus

VU offers financial advice and support to students including a no interest loan scheme. In 2021, in response to the Covid-19 lockdowns, this included providing $110,650 to 252 students by VU’s COVID-19 Student Support Fund.

Research groups addressing Goal 1

Programs addressing Goal 1