Vouchers to support children in need

March 2, 2024 BY

Supporting: Students from the Ballarat region, including those at Yuille Park Community College, will have access to back to school vouchers if needed. Photo: MIRIAM LITWIN

THIS year will see one thousand back to school vouchers given to vulnerable children and families in the region.

The vouchers come via a program run by the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal, or FRRR, assisted at a local level by the Ballarat Foundation.

In 2024 the two organisations will seek to help children from 28 primary schools in and around Ballarat.

A partnership between Cafs and UFS has allowed a further 300 vouchers to be distributed this year directly to Cafs clients.

UFS donated $7500 to the cause and this amount was matched by the FRRR to provide funding for the extra vouchers.

The remaining 700 will go to students and families who staff see would benefit from the vouchers.

Nina Fitzsimons, community impact manager at the Ballarat Foundation, said the back to school vouchers was an important initiative that allowed children to be school ready.

“What we’ve found is that, particularly in low socioeconomic areas, families at the moment when there’s a cost-of-living crisis, they have other priorities such as paying rent and bills,” she said.

“They often don’t have additional funds to be able to buy new school shoes or the equipment that they need to that they can go to school and feel confident.”

The vouchers can be used at Target or Kmart to buy school shoes, uniforms, stationary, or items for sports or camps.

As well as these $50 vouchers, technology vouchers valued at $100 are also available to help families purchase headphones, computer mice, cables, and chargers.

Assistant principal of Yuille Park Community College, Daniel O’Kelly, said he has seen firsthand the positive impact of the vouchers.

“We had vouchers last year from Athletes Foot in conjunction with Ballarat Foundation and we’ve had kids come back the following year with the same set of shoes saying ‘thank you very much’,” he said.

“They don’t have holes in their shoes, and they feel part of the rest of the community.

“Without this, our kids haven’t got that start to school which they deserve.”