Member for Western Victoria, Gayle Tierney has welcomed the Bracks Government’s $2.9 million relief package for schools to help students and their families in Victoria’s drought affected areas.
The relief package will help ease the cost of sending children to school and provide support services to families struggling through the drought.
Ms. Tierney said the social and economic impact of drought could not be underestimated.
“This initiative will ensure these drought-affected communities have access to the best possible support to help in the recovery process. It will help schools carry the cost of learning essentials such as text books and stationery, which will ease the burden on families affected by the drought.”
“The package will also help schools link up with local support services, providing specially appointed drought support officers to identify areas of need, and to direct funding assistance to those families most in need”, Ms. Tierney said.
The Department of Education’s regional offices will distribute the money to schools in the five worst drought-affected regions of the state: Grampians, Gippsland, Loddon Mallee, Hume and Barwon South Western.
The comprehensive support package includes:
• Funding for drought support welfare officers to work with schools and provide support to students and families
• Subsidies to schools to help with transport costs for students, books and stationery, counselling services, water conservation costs; and
• Linking schools to existing drought support services
Ms. Tierney said the School Drought Support Package was the latest in a range of Bracks Government initiatives to help schools and communities affected by drought and bushfire.
“Earlier this year we broadened the eligibility criteria for the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) for families affected by the drought. The EMA helps families with educational costs such as uniforms and books.”
A bushfire relief package, also announced earlier this year, included financial assistance and counselling for bushfire-affected schools. More than 5,700 students and staff were offered extra support in January to ensure a smooth transition back to school.
The bushfire relief package also contained grants for schools that were closed due to bushfires, financial support to pay for casual relief staff to enable teachers to fight the fires and money for social activities at schools to aid the recovery process.