Tens of thousands of Victorian families will receive welcome assistance with spiralling school costs this year, with confirmation that new funding for schools will be fast-tracked in the state budget.
“Cuts to education supports by the previous state government meant more than 200,000 Victorian students started the current school year without the long-standing assistance of the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) to meet the costs of things like books, uniforms, camps and excursions,” said Emma King, CEO of VCOSS.
“We know that this has hit some families, schools and community organisations hard as they struggle to cover the costs.”
“Yesterday’s state budget has moved to rectify these cuts and VCOSS has confirmed that funding will be made available in the current school year to help ensure students can access the Camps, Sports and Excursions Fund.”
“In the lead-up to last year’s election VCOSS led a coalition of community organisations, families and principals to campaign strongly on the need to support families facing disadvantage to Cover the costs of schooling.”
“We are pleased that the state government has listened to the needs of students and their families, and prioritised supporting children to be able to participate fully in school.”
The state budget makes a significant commitment of $178 million over four years to help students from low-income families meet the costs of education, including:
- $148.3m over four years for the Camps, Sports and Excursions fund, with $36.3m set for 2015-16 – and funding set to begin flowing through to schools this school year. This fund will assist families facing disadvantage to cover the costs of primary and secondary school trips and activities.
- $15.7m over four years for affordable school uniforms, with $4m set for 2015-16 – this additional funding to support the State Schools’ Relief fund will provide additional school uniforms, textbooks and other essential items for children facing disadvantage who attend government schools.
- $13.7m over four years for school breakfast clubs, with $1.5m for 2015-16 – Foodbank organisations will be funded to serve free breakfasts at 500 of the most disadvantaged government primary schools, providing meals to 25,000 children every day.
- $400,000 over four years to provide vision screening and glasses, with $100,000 in 2015-16 – supporting Prep-Grade 3 children in the state’s 250 most disadvantaged government primary schools.
“This budget has also reconfirmed the state government’s commitment to the Gonski School funding agreement through until the end of 2017, helping provide some certainty to students, principals and parents.”