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Back-to-school vouchers for struggling families

Thursday, 27th January, 2011

Lifeline's Financial Counsellor Sherrie Wilkins with the vouchers available today from Lifeline in Argent Street. Lifeline's Financial Counsellor Sherrie Wilkins with the vouchers available today from Lifeline in Argent Street.

Local families in need will be able to get shopping vouchers today to offset the cost of sending their children back to school.

The Broken Hill Community Foundation (BHCF) has obtained $50 vouchers through the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal's (FRRR) Back to

School Program and will distribute the vouchers through the local Lifeline.

This is the seventh consecutive year that the vouchers have been available and will bring the total distributed to local families to $104,500.

The BHCF has $20,000 worth of vouchers to give out.

BHCF Chairman Vince Gauci said the growing need for them unfortunately outweighed their availability, but he hoped that the families who received the vouchers will "feel an ease in the pressure of outfitting students for the new school year."

"We have found it necessary to modify our distribution method this year and apart from a small number reserved for School of the Air students, the vouchers will only be available through the local Lifeline offices in Argent Street. 

This won't prevent other agencies from referring their clients, but it will help the BHCF with its statistical reporting to FRRR and ensure families don't receive vouchers from more than one place, Mr Gauci said.

"We understand the allowance on each voucher per child is small, but feel it is important to spread the support as widely as possibly," he said.

The vouchers will not be available at Lifeline today and Mr Gauci said "once the supply is exhausted there is no opportunity to access more."

Families are asked to take with them proof of identify and some form of verification of the number of school children in their care. 

"We understand families have all sorts of pressures at this time of year, but the vouchers are specifically to assist with the cost of children returning to school and can only be used for related purchases, including clothing. 

"Families are, however, entitled to ask for one voucher for each of their children attending school in 2011," Mr Gauci said.

The vouchers can only be used at the local Target Country store at Centro Westside because of an arrangement with the FRRR and other program partners.

Lifeline's Financial Counsellor, Sherrie Wilkins, may be contacted for more details on 8087 7525. 

Ms Wilkins said the vouchers were highly anticipated, with families looking to welfare agencies more often for assistance.

The Back to School Program is made possible by the continued efforts of FRRR and the Sidney Myer Fund, and supported by The Pratt Foundation,

The Wyatt Benevolent Institution, The Estate of the Late Edward Wilson, The Aussie Farmers Association, The Julian Flett Foundation, managed by Perpetual and Target.

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