The NSW Opposition is calling on the state government to reinstate Back to School vouchers as thousands of students return to the classroom this week.
Labor axed the popular initiative, a cost-of-living assistance package, in its first Budget, much to dismay of families doing it tough in the Hunter.
All parents were given $150 per child in vouchers to help with the expenses of school supplies, uniforms, technology and more.
It’s understood the former Liberal government did not financially plan for the program in 2024, meaning it was never intended to continue beyond 30 June.
But, that hasn’t stopped Mark Speakman and Shadow Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell from asking for its restoration.
“As parents and pupils prepare for a new school year, the pain of this decision is being felt right across our state,” the Opposition Leader said.
“People are rightly asking what Premier Chris Minns and his government are doing to help address the rising cost-of-living.
“Axing Back to School vouchers is impacting families at a time when they can least afford it.
“Clearly, households are struggling to make ends meet at the moment.
“Sadly, this government has not only cut Back to School vouchers, but it’s slashed Active Kids, Creative Kids and First Lap.
“It’s just not good enough.
“Now, only eligible parents, guardians and carers of school-aged children can apply for either the Active Kids or Creative Kids vouchers from February.
“However, it’s valued at $50 and only available twice a year.”
Ms Mitchell said the government was out of touch in the current environment.
“As families struggle to cover schooling costs, the Minister for Education described this important program as a ‘cash splash’,” she stated.
“How arrogant can you get?
“It’s estimated the annual cost of school supplies for a primary student is now more than $650.
“These vouchers didn’t cover all the costs, but they did make a meaningful difference for families.
“Parents shouldn’t have to choose between a new pair of shoes, textbooks or electronic devices.
“However, this is the reality many families across NSW face.”
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