Charity Spotlight: State Schools' Relief
State Schools’ Relief is a not-for-profit organisation that improves the lives of tens of thousands of disadvantaged Victorian students, and their families, each year.
In the last year alone, they have assisted over 70,541 students in need with uniforms, shoes and other essential educational items such as laptops, graphing calculators and stationery packs.
Their simple and practical service ensures that all students can attend school in warmth and comfort with a greater sense of belonging and improved self-esteem, which in turn enhances their educational engagement.
CB: Tell us about State Schools' Relief.
State Schools’ Relief was founded in 1930 during the great depression, by Anton Vroland, a Head Teacher from Elsternwick state school. On June 12, 1930, Anton Vroland organised a meeting with fellow teachers and principals who were concerned about the students living in the barges along the Yarra and huts around the Dudley Flat tip. At the conclusion of this meeting, the State Schools’ Relief Committee (SSRC) was formed to undertake relief in the form of food and uniforms for Victorian students.
Issues such as poverty, neglect, family illness, abuse and homelessness continue to affect many Victorian families. State Schools’ Relief provides anonymous support to government school students with new uniforms, footwear and educational resources, including learning devices. We work side by side with all Victorian primary, secondary, specialist and language schools to ensure that any students facing hardship have the necessary items they require for school.
State Schools’ Relief is unique; no other Australian state has a similar organisation.
CB: Give us some insight into your mission, your purpose and your values.
Participation in education is the main way out of poverty and this pathway must remain open to every child. It is our belief that all students deserve the opportunity to participate in their school’s educational activities without barriers. It is our mission to help break down these barriers.
State Schools' relief values are
• Unity: Working together to support every young person
• Equality: Supporting equal life chance and access to opportunity for all young people
• Belonging: Fostering a sense of participation, inclusion and belonging to their school community
• Dignity: Making sure that every young person is able to participate with the same pride and dignity as their peers.
Our purpose is to provide students with the educational resources that they require to attend school with a sense of belonging provides considerable benefit. Our simple and practical service ensures that students can attend school looking the same as their peers, which in turn enhances their self-esteem, improving their engagement with education and opportunities for connecting with their school community.
CB: Tell us more about your incredible work.
In the 2019/20 financial year, we assisted 70,541 disadvantaged Victorian primary and secondary state school students with uniforms, shoes, school bags, socks, briefs and educational resources such as textbooks, calculators and iPads. When bushfires and the COVID19 pandemic devastated communities, we enhanced our delivery model to provide remote learning devices and internet connectivity throughout Victoria to ensure that students could engage with their online education.
The unprecedented 2020 bushfires and extreme weather events devastated communities, families, students and schools. In response, State Schools’ Relief and the Department of Education shared a vision to improve the outcomes for families through the ‘Getting Kids Back to School’ Bushfire Relief Packages. 3,641 students whose families had lost their primary source of income, their home or had family members who had acted as volunteer firefighters received support packages.
In addition to this, UNICEF provided funding which enabled SSR to procure 154 learning devices for students in bushfire-affected communities. State Schools’ Relief’s programs are designed for financially disadvantaged families. Short term crisis and long-term chronic need are the primary qualifying criteria for support, including natural disasters.
CB: How has the COVID19 pandemic affected you?
In response to the Government's directive for students to learn from home, the need for State Schools’ Relief to provide uniform items decreased. This provided an opportunity for our organisation to assist students who are financially disadvantaged and are unable to afford the cost of engaging with remote learning.
During the COVID19 pandemic, State Schools’ Relief was inundated with support requests for devices and internet connectivity. More than 3,000 internet USBs were provided to students all over Victoria. This was on top of those provided by the Education Department. As a result, the very real digital divide between families was exposed. In addition to internet connectivity, the offerings made available to Victorian students in need were 2,705 stationery packs, 937 Study Packs comprising of a desk and chair and 928 laptops.
CB: What else are you currently working on?
The Glasses for Kids program, which aims to remove vision impairment as a potential barrier to educational engagement by ensuring that children from disadvantaged families are supported to participate in education from their early years. Between 2020 – 2023, Glasses for Kids will provide initial vision screening and if needed, further testing and free glasses to approx. 21,000 participating Prep-Year 3 students in 340 schools throughout the most disadvantaged areas across Victoria.
The charityBay team would like to personally say a tremendous thank you to State’s Schools Relief for all their incredible hard work and dedication.
If you would like to support State’s Schools Relief, head to https://www.charitybay.org/charity-list/state-schools-relief-inc
Welcome to the new era of giving back!