Working with Social Futures to help young people and their families affected by the bushfires, Back to School grants were distributed across three programs – the Grandcarer Program (325 students), Summer Bushfire Response (1,333 students) and Winter Bushfire Response (1,571 students).
The objective of the program was to reduce financial stress for both parents and grandcarers and improve education outcomes by way of vouchers for items such as books, stationery, uniforms and shoes. One school significantly affected by the bushfires was Rappville Public School.
Principle, Kathleen Collis, says how “students came back to school feeling happier and with more self-esteem as they showed their new shoes, back-pack or lunchbox. Knowing that they are cared for and valued brought massive smiles and changes in self-confidence and well-being”.
Social Futures CEO Tony Davies said he is glad they have been able to lend a hand, “Social Futures and NRCF have strong connections with schools and communities throughout the Northern Rivers region. We were really happy to make use of our networks, and I thank the staff that put so many hours into coordinating this to see the vouchers get into the hands of the families that needed them most.”
The Grandcarer Program was particularly important this year, as not only did it help grandparents provide for the basic needs of their grandchildren, it also acknowledged the important role they play in supporting the wellbeing of, and educational opportunities for their grandchildren in times of crisis. In addition, the program nurtured grandcarers’ relationship with Social Futures, and informed them of other services in the region that could provide support for them in caring for and educating their grandchildren.
The Winter Bushfire Response relieved pressure for parents trying to purchase school uniforms, warm clothing and shoes for the Winter. The climate in Woodenbong is particularly cold, so many students used the vouchers for pants, jumpers, socks and beanies. A family of three indigenous children purchased long sleeve under shirts and track pants and were proud of how they looked.
The Winter program also strengthened relationships with schools and families whilst increasing awareness about the work of NRCF, FRRR and Social Futures in supporting those facing hardship. “We are proud to be associated with such a great program, and that the word in the community is so positive and acknowledges the impact. Parents have been very grateful for the support, especially as rental prices have skyrocketed. This program has gone a long way in helping families purchase goods that they may otherwise not have been able to aﬀord. The families trust in the school, and their belief that they are part of a system that is willing to help them has immeasurable positive eﬀects in our community.” Principal, participating school.