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No need to line up for vouchers

Friday, 31st January, 2014

Manager of the BH Community Foundation, Kimberley Fell, at her office with a handful of the 500 back-to-school vouchers for families in need. Manager of the BH Community Foundation, Kimberley Fell, at her office with a handful of the 500 back-to-school vouchers for families in need.

By Craig Brealey

The procedure for giving out back-to-school vouchers to families in need has changed this year but nobody will be complaining.

In previous years, families would lodge an application and then queue for their vouchers on the footpath outside the Lifeline offices in Argent Street.

If that happened this time, you would probably be struck down by the heat before you got to the front door.

Now the vouchers will instead be given out over a period of a few weeks so there is no need to line up.

The change is due to the temporary closure of the Target store where the $50 vouchers must be spent on items such as school uniforms, shoes, bags, stationary and the like.

Target is moving from the Centro Plaza to the new Coles store and is due to reopen in a couple of months. 

The Back to School Voucher Program is run by the Broken Hill Community Foundation with the funding provided by the Foundation of Rural and Regional renewal (FRRR) and their donor partners together with the philanthropic Sidney Myer Fund.

“The objective is to identify families in greatest need and support them when their children return to school each year,” said the manager of the BH Community Foundation, Kimberley Fell.

Of course, the help will be available a bit later this time but it’s there, just the same, in this the 10th year of the program.

In 2005 when it began, 140 vouchers were given out. The following year it was 200 and the number has grown each year, Ms Fell said.

In total, by the time this year’s vouchers have been given out, 3,540 vouchers and $177,000 will have been distributed, she said.

“The Foundation is very proud to be associated with it.

“Last year we had just over 200 families receive the vouchers and they are entitled to one per child.

“Parents in Tibooburra, Wilcannia and Menindee may also apply and the forms will be available from the relevant agencies.”

This year the Foundation has 500 to distribute which Ms Fell said was good insofar as more families would benefit, but it also showed that more were in need of them.

Essentially, the vouchers are for families on a low income and proof of that in the form of a Centrelink notice or health care card must be attached to the application form.

“They do have to show that they are having a difficult time at the moment,” said Ms Fell. 

“We don’t want to turn anyone away but they do need to prove that’s their situation.”

The vouchers may also be given directly to school students themselves, provided that they can prove that they are estranged from their families and in need. The same applies to students who are studying for their Higher School Certificate at TAFE.

Application forms will become available today at Lifeline and the BH Community Foundation’s office at 353 Blende Street (just back from the Oxide St corner).

They may also be obtained from the schools when they reopen next week.

All of the forms must be returned to the Community Foundation’s office and the vouchers may be collected from there on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

The vouchers will also be distributed from the office only (not from Lifeline) starting next Tuesday (February 4) and ending on Thursday, March 14.

“We are limited in the number of vouchers we can give out so don’t leave it too late to return your application form,” said Ms Fell.

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