The Thistle - An E-Newsletter of Scotch College, Perth, Western Australia

The end of poverty?

The story of global poverty has had some immense successes in recent decades which perhaps needs greater publicity. The First Millennium Development Goal established in 2000 was to cut extreme poverty in half by 2015 which was met five years ahead of schedule. Statistics and measurements for poverty vary greatly and these statements should be read with caution but celebrating successes is also important and the world has certainly come a long way in recent decades.

The saying goes that Chairman Mao did a huge amount to end global poverty by dying in 1976 and it is certainly true that the changes in China, due to its sheer size, make a significant difference when it comes to facts and figures regarding the decline of poverty globally. This said, there are a number of other reasons the drop in people living in poverty.

Steven Pinker's book, Enlightenment Now, has stated that the primary reason for the decline in poverty is the decline of communism. A shift from collectivization and central control to more open economies has dramatically shifted people away from scarcity and famine. Pinker cites the difference between satellite imagery between North and South Korea as strong evidence of this theory and I know that a forensic look at maps of Germany still show a difference between development and infrastructure in the eastern and western regions, though in this case I am not suggesting people in the east are living poverty!

A second reason cited is poor leadership, generally seen in the context of the Cold War. Until the 1990s, the Soviet Union and the United States were willing to prop up leaders, no matter the impact on their citizens quality of life. The quote often attributed to Franklin Roosevelt when describing a Nicaraguan dictator that, "he may be a son of a bitch, but he is our son of a bitch", perfectly describes attitudes to dictators during the 20th century. As the Cold War ended, many civil wars ended too and terrible leaders were deposed to be replaced by free marketers. The end of war means the beginning of infrastructure, education, and an increased workforce and development has followed.

Finally, Pinker cites globalisation and the ability for people to trade efficiently and effectively. Globalisation has certainly led to some boats rising more than others but the old adage still rings true with respects to poverty indicators, a rising tide floats all boats!


While global poverty is undoubtedly in decline and this is something to be celebrated, there are still a lot of people reliant on The Salvation Army. In Australia, latest reports (read the report here.) states that 13.2% of people live on half the median income which is the measurement it uses to measure poverty (in this instance, not considered extreme). It is these people which The Salvation Army plays a significant role in assisting and whom Scotch College's efforts are targeted at. Over the past year our students have been manning the morning soup kitchens at Plain Street and Wellington Square and we have seen first-hand the needs of people on our streets.

To assist The Salvation Army, last Friday we launched the Birthday Bag Project. The project, which is focused on the Junior School, aims to build empathy and gratitude (see Mr Hindle's article above on the importance of gratitude to healthy wellbeing) in our students, give families the opportunity for regular 'spring cleans' to recycle unwanted items and strengthening our links to the Salvos. Each boy with a birthday in December or January received a birthday card and donation bag which they will return to their classroom on their birthday. The Year 10 boys who visit the Salvos on Fridays, or the boys running the Wednesday morning soup kitchen, will then transport the bags to The Salvation Army headquarters.


Below are a few opportunities to get outside their comfort zone that your son may be interested in. Please contact me if you'd like more information or visit the website. (

Year 11 and 12 – Abrolhos Islands Adventurous Journey, 12 – 18 April, 2019. This tour has been designed to support the requirements of The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award and will focus mainly on the Skills and Adventurous Journey, whilst promoting the experiences below:

  • Maritime history and archaeology – the students will explore the 'Shipwreck Coast' and the maritime history of Western Australia and will have the unique opportunity to dive on the Batavia shipwreck.
  • Exploring the importance of plankton and coral communities in the marine environment – the students will be immersed in this coral atoll and learn about the characteristics of coral communities.
  • Management of marine resources – students will learn about the Western Australian rock lobster industry, regarded as one of the best managed fisheries in the world, and visit a pearl farm.
  • SCUBA diving - students will complete the theory and practical component of their PADI SCUBA, including preparation prior to the trip.

Year 10 and 11 – 2019 Round Square International Service Big Build Projects in Morocco and Borneo.

All Abilities Cricket started on Friday 26 October. It runs every week from 5.00pm at Creswell Oval (Claremont Nedlands Cricket Club). All welcome.

Boardies Day is on Tuesday 4 December. All Scotch College students (ELC through Year 12 plus staff) are encouraged to wear boardshorts with their uniform or work clothes. This will raise funds and awareness for water safety as we enter the summer months.


Disabled Surfing Australia: the first event of the summer will take place at Leighton Beach on Saturday 1 December 2018. There is no PSA sport that day so we encourage everyone in the Scotch community to go along to Leighton and learn what it is all about. The community atmosphere is electric and the joy for all involved is contagious!

Volunteers required from 6.30am until 2.00pm at Leighton Beach Fremantle.

Registration at 9.00am with a 10.30am cut off followed by a pre-event safety briefing at 9.30am. Barbeque and presentations at 1.00pm with the event wrapping up at approximately 2.00pm. More details at the website.

Christmas Appeal - Uniting Care West

All boys are encouraged to support the Appeal. There is a Christmas Tree in the DC where donations can be left or alternatively with House Heads and Homeroom teachers. See poster below for what to donate.


Year 10 parents – there are a small number of exchange opportunities still to be filled. If your son is interested, please contact me.

Mr David Kyle
Director of Service and Citizenship