Back to School vouchers available to help families in fire-affected communities from Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal

Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal CEO Natalie Egleton.
Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal CEO Natalie Egleton.

After the summer's bushfires, many children in rural, regional and remote communities will not have what they need to start second term.

In the wake of the crisis, many more students will get the helping hand they need, thanks to the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal and its generous donor partners.

Since 2005, the FRRR's Back to School program has given more than 165,000 disadvantaged students a $50 gift voucher that can be redeemed for school necessities, such as uniforms, shoes, school bags and stationery.

FRRR will run a special round of its Back to School program to provide thousands of $50 vouchers to children and families in need in rural communities within local government areas where a bushfire disaster was declared between September 2019 and February 2020. The vouchers can be redeemed at Target stores or select local stationery and uniform retailers in local communities.

FRRR CEO Natalie Egleton said the organisation ensures the vouchers get to those who need it.

"FRRR partners with Community Foundations and local community organisations, who can discretely ensure support reaches people, without them having to apply for it.

"We expect to distribute up to 15,500 vouchers to fire-affected families. To work swiftly, FRRR will seek to work with Foundations and organisations with whom we've partnered previously, as well as seek applications from other backbone organisations in communities where we've previously not distributed vouchers," Ms Egleton explained.

Community Foundations and local community organisations can apply for vouchers via the FRRR website (www.frrr.org.au). Vouchers will be distributed in May.

"Fifty dollars may not seem like much, but we know that this does make a difference," Ms Egleton said. "It helps to offset the cost of school books, stationery, shoes, winter clothes and even equipment that enables students to participate fully in extracurricular activities, such as steel-capped boots for work experience or sleeping bags, so they join in school camps."

FRRR waives its administration fee on the Back to School program.

The Back to School Bushfire Response program is just one way FRRR is assisting fire-affected communities to get back on their feet.

FRRR's Disaster Resilience and Recovery Fund supports needs in the medium to long-term (12 to 18 months after the bushfires). Grants will be available for leaders to implement what their communities need. That could be support for fatigued volunteer leaders; repairing vital community infrastructure; or ensuring psychological support is available when it is most needed. Grants could also be used to prepare for future disasters.

FRRR will also offer a special grant stream through its flexible Strengthening Rural Communitiesprogram for communities that identify more immediate needs and for donors who want to use all their funds in the medium-term recovery period.

The Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal (FRRR) was established in 2000 to support the renewal of rural, regional and remote communities in Australia through partnerships with the private sector, philanthropy and governments. Since inception, FRRR has managed the distribution of nearly $100 million in grants and provided substantial capacity building support to community organisations across the nation. To find out more about FRRR, visit www.frrr.org.au.