SA families receive cost of living relief as students return to school

Discounts to school fees and laptop purchases are providing South Australian families with much needed cost of living relief as kids return to school.

As South Australia’s more than 185,000 students eagerly prepare to return to school, the state’s families are benefiting from a range of cost-saving measures, offering much-needed financial relief.

A significant highlight of these initiatives is the launch of the government’s new laptop program. Commencing this year, families qualifying for the School Card program, with students in years 7 and 10 attending one of the 226 participating schools, will receive free laptop devices to aid their educational endeavours.

This program aims to bridge the digital divide and ensure all students have access to essential technology.

For primary school students, the government will contribute 50 percent toward the cost of devices based on a 1:3 whole-of-school ratio. Parents and caregivers of primary school card students will also be relieved of the financial burden of contributing to the cost of digital devices.

The rollout of this program is well underway, with 15,200 devices already delivered to schools, representing a significant investment of $14 million. This initiative will continue to expand over the next three years, ultimately benefiting all high school students eligible for the School Card program by 2026.

In a bid to bridge the digital divide further, the government has collaborated with the Commonwealth Government’s NBN program to provide access to at-home internet for nearly 5,000 families.

Through the Department’s home internet program, students without internet access at home are eligible for free internet services. Enrollment for this program remains open throughout 2024.

“We know that this time of year can be daunting for families, particularly when they have more than one child at school, so I would encourage anyone who is having difficulties to speak with their child’s school about the options that are available,” Premier Peter Malinauskas says.

The government is also supporting South Australian public school families for the third consecutive year by offering a $100 Materials and Services charge discount. This discount is automatically applied by schools, relieving parents from the need to apply and ensuring immediate financial relief at the start of the school year.

To further alleviate financial stress, the income threshold for the School Card program is being increased. Families with one child will now qualify with an income of up to $70,994, marking an increase of $4,582. Additionally, for each additional child in the family, the threshold increases by $1,268. These changes mean that families earning below the new threshold will not be required to pay the prescribed Material and Services charges for their children’s education.

Continuing its commitment to students’ well-being, the State Government is increasing the availability of breakfast programs in schools.

A $6.5 million boost from the State Government over four years has enabled the establishment of new agreements with Kickstart for Kids and Foodbank SA. This additional funding of $1.12 million ensures that more students, particularly those attending the state’s most disadvantaged schools, have access to free, nutritious meals through breakfast programs.

“The continued Materials and Services Charge relief, student device program and breakfast programs are all ways in which the Malinauskas Labor Government is addressing inequity across our system, and ensuring the best support in schools to benefit teaching and learning,” Minister for Education, Training and Skills Blair Boyer says.

“We have also supported the student home internet program and the school student broadband initiative to ensure that no matter a student’s background – they have access to a quality education and the resources needed to study.”

“In total this government has made an investment in the materials and services charge rebate of $36 million over three years – delivering practical support to families right across the state.”

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