Fam­i­lies strug­gle with cost of school­ing

Geelong Advertiser - - NEWS - GENEVIEVE ALI­SON

AL­MOST two-thirds of Aus­tralian’s be­lieve school costs are un­af­ford­able for many fam­i­lies, a new sur­vey has found.

As thou­sands of chil­dren pre­pare to head back to school, fam­i­lies across the coun­try are strug­gling un­der the bur­den of ex­pen­sive uni­forms, text books and tech­nol­ogy.

The sur­vey, com­mis­sioned by the Smith Fam­ily, found 84 per cent of re­spon­dents did not want chil­dren to miss out on ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties due to fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties.

And three-quar­ters of those sur­veyed be­lieved low­in­come fam­i­lies should be given ex­tra sup­port to help meet ris­ing ed­u­ca­tion costs.

Wer­ribee mother Carol Achi­son-Mills said the leadup to the new school year had be­come in­creas­ingly stress­ful as costs add up.

“It takes away the ex­cite­ment for them if they’re wor­ried about whether or not they have the right uni­form or books,” she said.

School uni­forms can cost up to $500 a child, while her two older chil­dren are re­quired to have lap­tops for high school, Ms AchisonMills said.

“Kids shouldn’t be pun­ished or bul­lied for some­thing they can’t con­trol,” she said.

“It’s not fair on them — they don’t un­der­stand why some kids can af­ford things when oth­ers can’t,” she said.

Ms Achi­son-Mills said without the sup­port of char­i­ties like the Smith Fam­ily, her chil­dren would likely have missed out.

The Smith Fam­ily’s Vic­to­rian gen­eral man­ager An­ton Leschen said the ‘back to school’ pe­riod was one of the busiest times for the char­ity.

“No par­ent wants their child to start the school year feel­ing iso­lated from their peers,” Mr Leschen said.

Pic­ture: JA­SON ED­WARDS

COSTLY LES­SONS: Carol Achi­son-Mills with her kids, from left, Lach­lann, 13, Mykay­lah, 12, and Harley, 10. Nearly two-thirds of fam­i­lies sur­veyed said the cost of send­ing their kids to school is "un­af­ford­able".

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