The ongoing financial impact of the COVID 19 pandemic has been particularly severe for low income, disadvantaged families in the City of Banyule.

This year, the Banyule Support and Information Centre (BANSIC) is preparing to give financial assistance through its Back-to-School Program to local families who will struggle to pay for their children’s school expenses early in the New Year. Low-income families with one or more children can be faced with such costs as new school uniforms, textbooks, stationery and school excursions.

BANSIC believes that all children should have the opportunity to reach their full potential at school, regardless of their financial standing. We know that children who do not have the required textbooks and who do not meet the dress code standards of their school are likely to become schoolroom outcasts and be locked into a cycle of lifetime poverty and disadvantage.

In the past 12 months, individuals and families have accessed BANSIC services such as emergency relief, food relief and material aid, advocacy, counselling, support and information services on nearly 3,000 occasions. BANSIC clients live in the southern part of the City of Banyule, and experience substantial disadvantage and vulnerability.

BANSIC established the Back-to-School Help Program 4 years ago and we are committed to helping families afford the ever-increasing costs of primary and secondary education. We have experienced an increase in demand for this kind of support as economic conditions have worsened. ‘Cheryl’s story is an example of the situations that our clients and their children often face.

Cheryl is a single mother who lives on a Disability Support Pension. Cheryl and her daughter fled from a family violence situation and has since lived temporarily in crisis accommodation and has also experienced homelessness.

Cheryl’s former partner does not pay any child support. At the time that a BANSIC Community Support Worker met with Cheryl, her 9-year-old daughter was starting at a new school, and she had no school uniform or books.

BANSIC were able to help with school uniform and an Officeworks voucher.

Last year, BANSIC provided over $18,000 Back to School support, consisting of $10,500 in uniform support and $7,500 in textbook and stationery support. We assisted to over 80 families. This year BANSIC is able to access the State School Relief grant to meet family’s uniform needs, but we are expecting significantly increased demand for textbook and stationery support due to the impact of CIVID-19 and a growing awareness of the program. BANSIC has been able to allocate $11,500 to meet this demand but is seeking to raise a further $5,000 to ensure that no students miss out.

The average costs of textbook and stationery for a primary school student is approximate $375, and for a secondary school student is approximately $650. BANSIC will be contributing $150 per child, up to a total of $500 per family to those who are most in need.

Are you able to assist us in meeting the increased demand and enable our students to have the resources they need to attend school in 2022?

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If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Kate from BANSIC on 0466 372 376