School supply struggle


Gerald Lynch

With the cost of living continuing to rise, families are feeling the pinch as the new school year rolls around.

Broadmeadows resident Cindy Eldridge, is a single mother of four and has struggled to make ends meet.

Ms Eldridge has children in grades 3, 7, 9, and 11, all at different schools, and the family recently moved houses to reduce costs.

The Smith Family has stepped in to support, with three of Ms Eldridge’s children being granted a learn for life scholarship, giving her $300 per kid now, and a further $190 in June.

According to a survey conducted by The Smith Family which spoke to more than 2200 families, nearly nine out of ten respondents are worried to some degree about being able to afford all the things their children will need for school this year.

These concerns range from school uniforms, to school supplies, excursions, and even internet access at home to complete work.

For Ms Eldridge and her family, she doesn’t know where she’d be without the scholarships.

“Absolutely we wouldn’t have been able to (afford everything without the funding),” she said.

“We are very grateful, one of my child’s schools put my daughter forward for being from a single income home, and the others were accepted as her siblings.”

While she is happy with the funding she has received to get her kids the school essentials, Ms Eldridge said that the government should be offering more assistance to every family.

“They should be stepping in more to help out every single family,” she said.

“I have friends that are from two-income families, and they don’t know how they’re going to manage this year.

“The government has handed out a school uniform voucher before, but they might be worth 20 bucks, and a school dress is $180… it’s not good enough.”

A spokesperson from the Victorian Department of Education said every student deserves access to a great education.

“The government recognises that families are struggling with the costs of living and learning right now,” they said.

“It’s why the government is providing $69.5 million for school breakfast clubs, $75.7 million for affordable school unforms and $168.7 million for the camp, sports and excursions fund for families with Health Care cards.

“These investments are ensuring that all students can continue to fully participate in schooling, despite the cost-of-living pressures that we know many families are experiencing.”