The Paul Ramsay Foundation today launches its new podcast Life’s Lottery, examining new ways to break cycles of disadvantage and delving into the latest research, ideas and innovative programs that are having meaningful impact in communities across the nation.

Hosted by the Foundation’s chief executive Professor Glyn Davis AC and Chief Strategy Officer Dr Jeni Whalan, the five-part series features conversations with public policy experts, thought leaders and those whose lives have been touched by disadvantage.

Life’s Lottery probes some big and difficult questions: does the economy of precarious work leave space for ideas of merit? How do philanthropic organisations coordinate with government and the community to disrupt the status quo? What is required to roll out successful locally based programs on a national scale? Can we re-evaluate prison as a space to connect with individuals who will likely re-enter the cycle of disadvantage upon release?

These questions offer a starting point for future policy development in Australia, which maximises the historic opportunities of the post-pandemic period. Just as the COVID-19 pandemic rewrote the rules of social welfare, face-to-face work and global travel, so too can the recovery inspire new, strategic ways of supporting communities with close experience of disadvantage and in the path of compounding natural and health disasters. A central pillar of the Foundation’s external Thought Leadership, Life’s Lottery is a vehicle for new conversations, underpinned by reliable data and geared at meaningful, long-lasting change.

“More than three million Australians live below the poverty line, including one in six children,” Professor Davis said. “In developing the Life’s Lottery podcast, we are looking to energise discussions about how we can break cycles of disadvantage in Australia and engage with the key issues facing the social welfare sector.

“This podcast is about big ideas and novel approaches to breaking cycles of disadvantage, and it is particularly timely for this discussion to occur as we forge our path out of the pandemic and consider whether COVID-19’s legacy should be a recovery that helps people move forward, and not just bounce back, or a crisis which further entrenches existing inequality in Australia.”

Released today, Episode One, titled ‘On Merit’, tackles the thorny topic of merit and builds on the questions first raised in Professor Davis’ book, which joined Hachette Australia’s ‘On Series’. The episode features Alison Pennington, senior economist with The Australia Institute’s Centre for Future Work, and social affairs journalist and author Rick Morton. The episode notes how the Australian government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic represented the largest poverty reduction measure in Australian history – challenging the prevailing view that government does not have the financial capacity to lift people out of poverty.

“Cycles of disadvantage are numerous, complex and greater than the sum of their parts,” Dr Whalan said. “A child born into disadvantage today will typically struggle to break free in adulthood, no matter how hard they work, but it doesn’t have to be this way.”

The Life’s Lottery series will also feature interviews with ROCKWOOL Foundation senior adviser Charles Leadbeater, Griffith University criminologist Professor Susan Dennison, former Logan Together executive director Matthew Cox and CEO of the Pew Charitable Trusts, Dr Susan Urahn. The series has been produced by Impact Studios at UTS as part of a grant relationship with the Foundation.

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Doug Taylor, CEO of The Smith Family:

“Life’s Lottery is a timely podcast for the Australian community. COVID has exacerbated the problems too many Australians living with poverty experience everyday but it has also shown us that we can make big changes when lives are at stake. As we reimagine the future of our community this podcast helps us see how people experience poverty as it is, not as we would like it to be. This combined with the useful insights into effective public policy can help us build a brighter future for more Australians.”

Dr Anne Summers AO, journalist, author and Paul Ramsay Foundation Fellow at UTS:

“This podcast is unique for the way it enables the intersection of the interviewees’ expertise with their own lived experience of disadvantage. This is the place where change begins, and it is wonderful to see the Paul Ramsay Foundation not just occupying that place but opening it up to further exploration to enable the insights and understandings that will propel those necessary reforms.”

About the Paul Ramsay Foundation

We seek to identify and partner with individuals, communities and organisations working to break cycles of disadvantage and create an Australia where people can realise their potential.

The late Paul Ramsay AO established the Foundation in 2006 and, after his death in 2014, left the majority of his estate to continue his philanthropy for generations to come.

His commitment to good works has allowed us to support the for-purpose sector with grant commitments of more than $600 million made since 2016 across more than 120 grants, to partners committed as we are to achieving lasting change.

Media Contact: Pia Akerman, 0412 346 746