Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal

More than 6,800 Back to School vouchers distributed

More than 6,800 students and families in places recovering from the 2019/20 bushfires will head Back to School in semester 2 with a little extra support, thanks to the generosity of donors from across Australia and overseas.

Support continues for students impacted by Black Summer bushfires

Funded through a special Bushfire Response round of the Back to School (BTS) program, FRRR has partnered with local community groups and Community Foundations in impacted regions to distribute 6,814 $50 gift vouchers to families in need.

Students can redeem the vouchers for school essentials such as winter uniforms, school bags, shoes or stationery. To date, BTS vouchers valued at more than $822,000 have been distributed to families in fire-affected communities since June 2020.

Natalie Egleton, CEO of FRRR, said that for these students and their families, the vouchers provide a little extra help as they continue to navigate the recovery journey, which has certainly been complicated by the pandemic.

“Last year many of these families were home schooling throughout the colder months. So, with most back at school, some are only now realising there are items that still need replacing following the bushfires.

“Fifty dollars may not seem much, but for these families it can have a big impact, helping to cover the cost of a couple of school jumpers or a winter uniform, new books to start the term or even a sleeping bag that a child can use for school camp.

“We’re grateful to our Community Foundation partners and other groups that are working on the ground in the impacted regions. Their discreet distribution of the vouchers to those in need means families can receive support without having to ask for it,” Ms Egleton said.

Tenterfield Lions Club is one of the organisations helping to distribute the vouchers to students in their region. Club President, Lisa Dalton, said that the vouchers will help parents with the costs of winter school essentials and will also benefit the Shire when the vouchers are redeemed locally.

“We’ve been through the wringer over the last couple of years, and I hope this is just a small way of letting the wider community know we are all in this together,” Ms Dalton said.

The BTS program distributes vouchers to students and families across Australia, including those in regions not impacted by the 2019/20 bushfires. In total, 64 Community Foundations and locally-based community groups have helped FRRR to distribute $1,075,400 in vouchers to through the BTS program this year.

BTS vouchers are funded by FRRR and its donor partners, which include News Corp, Australia Post, Fire Fight Australia concert, Counter Point Community Services (Cycle Recycle), Portland House Foundation, UNICEF Australia, J & M Nolan Family Trust, Bertalli Family Foundation, June Canavan Foundation, and Origin Energy Foundation, as well as individual donors.

Vouchers were awarded to support the following bushfire-affected Local Government Areas:

Towong (VIC)
East Gippsland (VIC)
Wellington (VIC)
Greater Hume Shire (NSW)
Snowy Valleys (NSW)
Eurobodalla (NSW)
Mid-Coast (NSW)
Bega Valley (NSW)
Tenterfield (NSW)
Ballina (NSW)
Clarence Valley (NSW)
Lismore (NSW)
Richmond Valley (NSW)
Kyogle (NSW)
Kangaroo Island (SA)
Yorke Peninsula (SA)

FRRR and community groups help young people impacted by bushfires

More than 5,400 students and families in places affected by the Black Summer bushfires are being given a helping hand at the start the new school year, thanks to the generosity of donors from across Australia.

FRRR and community groups help young people impacted by bushfires

Funded through FRRR’s Back to School (BTS) program, students will be able to redeem the $50 gift vouchers for essential school items such as uniforms, school bags or stationery. So far this year, vouchers valued at more than $250,000 have been distributed to families impacted by the 2019-20 bushfires.

FRRR partners with local community groups and Community Foundations who discretely distribute the vouchers to families in need. This means parents don’t have to apply for them but still get the support they need.

The vouchers are funded by FRRR and its donor partners, which include News Corp, Australia Post, Fire Fight Australia concert, Portland House Foundation, UNICEF Australia, J & M Nolan Family Trust, Bertalli Family Foundation, June Canavan Foundation, and Origin Energy Foundation, as well as individual donors.

Natalie Egleton, CEO of FRRR, said that for these students and their families, getting back to school is an important part of the recovery journey.

“As families continue to navigate their recovery journey after the bushfires, they are also dealing with the additional challenges caused by the pandemic.

“These vouchers are a small way of helping students and families to have one less thing to worry about – whether they cover the cost of a pair of school shoes, a couple of school jumpers, or even a sleeping bag that a child can use for school camp,” Ms Egleton explained.

Northern Rivers Community Foundation (NRCF) is one of the Community Foundations helping to distribute the vouchers in their region. NRCF Executive Officer, Emily Berry, said that the vouchers are for purchasing items that students may have lost in the fires and have never been able to replace due to financial difficulties.

“We hope these vouchers support inclusion for the students, helping them fit into their school environment and go on to realise their potential, instead of feeling different, or excluded because they are unable to purchase school essentials,” Ms Berry said.

As part of the BTS program, a further 30 Community Foundations and locally-based community groups are helping to distribute 7,000 BTS vouchers to students and families in rural regions not affected by the 2019-20 bushfires.

In total, more than $590,000 has been distributed in vouchers to students and families across Australia through the BTS program this year.

“Last year was tough for everyone, especially for those living in the bush. Fifty dollars may not seem much, but for these families it can help to alleviate the pressure they face at the start of a new school year,” Ms Egleton said.

From our previous experience in supporting disaster-affected communities, we know that young people have been significantly affected by the fires, and it can take families a long time to get back on their feet again. FRRR is conducting another dedicated round of the Back to School program, which will provide vouchers in time for winter uniform and shoes. Applications are open now.

Vouchers were awarded to support the following Local Government Areas:

Bushfire Recovery stream
Alpine (S)Lismore (C)
Bega Valley (A)Richmond Valley (A)
Central Coast (C) (NSW)Snowy Monaro Regional (A)
Clarence Valley (A)Snowy Valleys (A)
East Gippsland (S)Towong (S)
Greater Hume Shire (A)Wingecarribee (A)
Kyogle (A)Yorke Peninsula (DC)
General stream
Albury (C)Cleve (DC)Mid Murray (DC)Streaky Bay (DC)
Alexandrina (DC)Cloncurry (S)Mid-Coast (A)Sunshine Coast (R)
Alice Springs (T)Cowra (A)Moorabool (S)Tatiara (DC)
Ballarat (C)Elliston (DC)Mount Gambier (C)Toowoomba (R)
Ballina (A)Federation (A)Mount Isa (C)Tumby Bay (DC)
Barkly (R)Franklin Harbour (DC)Naracoorte and Lucindale (DC)Tweed (A)
Barossa (DC)Golden Plains (S)Northern Grampians (S)Victor Harbor (C)
Bass Coast (S)Grant (DC)Peterborough (DC)Victoria Daly (R)
Baw Baw (S)Hepburn (S)Port Augusta (C)Wagga Wagga (C)
Benalla (RC)Hinchinbrook (S)Port Lincoln (C)Wangaratta (RC)
Boulia (S)Indigo (S)Port Pirie City and Dists (M)Wattle Range (DC)
Broken Hill (C)Kimba (DC)Pyrenees, VicWhyalla (C)
Buloke (S)Kingston (DC) (SA)Richmond (S)Wodonga (C)
Byron (A)Kyogle (A)Robe (DC)Wudinna (DC)
Campaspe (S)Latrobe (C) (Vic.)Roper Gulf (R)Yankalilla (DC)
Ceduna (DC)Light (RegC)South Gippsland (S)Yorke Peninsula (DC)
Central Darling (A)Lower Eyre Peninsula (DC)Strathbogie (S)