As the annual summer break ends and the new school year looms, kids across the country are gearing up for a return to the classroom. And while these children will likely be excited at the prospect of hanging out with their schoolmates again, for many of their parents and caregivers the ‘back to school’ lead up is a time that is fraught with stress and tension as the financial implications of the return to school sink in.
From stationery and uniforms, to tablets and other tech; the back to school shopping list can leave some households struggling to find the money to pay for it all.
To ease some of the stress faced by low-income Aussie families, Amazon Australia is once again teaming up with Vinnies — the St Vincent De Paul Society — with a commitment to provide 1,000 students with $100 vouchers for much-needed Back to School packs.
The back to school burden
“It’s so important that organisations come together to support such an important issue," says Donna Boyd, Support Centre Manager at Vinnies in Redfern, Sydney. “Vinnies is a trusted safe haven for so many people throughout the world, and with Amazon Australia’s support we can reach families in Australia who are doing it really tough at this point in time."
Part of the challenge — as Donna is seeing it play out around the country — is that it goes well beyond a simple matter of budgeting.
“It’s not just stationery and school bags; there is the added cost of school uniforms, shoes, excursions, book fees, items for school lunches and so on,” she explains. “Not being able to afford the items is one thing. Knowing that your child may be embarrassed due to not having the resources, and not being able to do anything about that due to financial constraints, can be both debilitating and embarrassing for the entire family.”
Lily, a Sydney-based mum of five school-aged kids, knows all too well about the added challenges that the back-to-school period brings families who are struggling financially.
“My children are my priority in life,” Lily says. “But it can be a challenge when school starts, because there’s so much you have to buy — especially when you have multiple kids.”
A little goes a long way
For Lily and her family, it’s this kind of support that allows them to get by, turning a potentially traumatic time of the year into a positive one.
“Vinnies is a great organisation and they’ve been there for me financially, emotionally and mentally,” Lily says. “They never say ‘no’ when you ask for help — they do an amazing job.”
As for Donna, she believes this assistance will be all the more crucial in 2022, with so many parents finding themselves under more financial pressure than ever before.
“Across Australia, people have been dealt so much adversity and there is still so much uncertainty in regards to the future,” she says. “During the lockdown period, many parents entered into financial debt so they could provide equipment such as laptops, and they’re still wearing the brunt of the expense.”
Exacerbating the issue is the increasing cost of school gear, which has been growing as a result of technology requirements deemed central to the modern education experience.
“Only last week I was advised of a child in Year Three needing an iPad — a requirement apparently put in place by the school,” recounts Donna. “Parents are often left with nowhere else to turn other than our Vinnies Support Centres for support with purchasing expensive, but required, IT equipment.”
With Amazon Australia’s mission to team up with charities that in turn provide much-needed assistance to local communities, Vinnies makes an ideal partner for tackling the stresses brought by the back-to-school rush. And with so many parents finding themselves struggling to make ends meet during the pandemic, their efforts are particularly important in 2022.
Amazon Australia Country Manager, Janet Menzies, said that the company was proud to offer its support to Vinnies again this year.
“For a second year, Amazon is proud to team up with Vinnies to support families with a range of back-to-school items. The start of the school year is an important time for every child, and we hope this offers some assistance for parents in setting their kids up for a successful 2022.”
For Australia’s students receiving aid the benefits of this partnership will likely be felt well into the future, as they go on to realise their true potential.
“By funding the Back to School packs Amazon Australia are helping to ensure that these children receive not only the resources they require, but a chance to compete with more privileged peers and, ultimately, chart a course towards a successful future,” Donna says.
“Every child deserves the opportunity to thrive. Having the resources they need provides students with confidence, reducing their risk of feeling inadequate and maximising their chance to excel and succeed.”