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education.vic.gov.au

School operations

Financial Help for Families

Policy

This policy sets out requirements for schools to prepare for and support families experiencing financial hardship in order to facilitate student participation in the full school program. 

Summary

  • Schools must develop arrangements that support families experiencing financial hardship.
  • Arrangements should consider but not be limited to:
    • tailored payment plans, waiving, reducing or extending payment deadlines
    • referrals to Victorian Government or community support programs
  • Schools must communicate arrangements so that all families are well informed.
  • Schools should put in place strategies to identify families experiencing hardship, while promoting their dignity, exercising sensitivity and confidentiality of their circumstances.

Details

Schools must prepare for and support families who are experiencing financial hardship and who are unable to make parent payments for Essential or Optional items under the Parent Payments Policy

This includes developing financial help for families arrangements that:

  • outline reasonable ways to support families who are unable to make financial payments as set out in the parent payment policy
  • support families on a case by case basis and provide an appropriate, achievable and family-centred response that promotes the dignity and confidentiality of family circumstances and assures families that students will continue to be supported to access the curriculum
  • nominate a suitable parent payment contact person who will be responsible for working with families to determine, negotiate and maintain appropriate responses

Financial help arrangements

If a family is experiencing financial hardship and is unable to make a parent payment, schools should consider school-based payment arrangements such as:

  • establishing flexible payment plans or waiving, reducing or extending payment deadlines for essential or optional charges
  • maintaining contact with families and revisiting agreed arrangements when requested
  • making available class sets or establishing strategies for the sale or exchange of second hand essential and optional items such as textbooks, uniforms and stationery
  • referring families to government or community support programs

Schools should be aware of Department and externally provided support programs and refer families to these services where appropriate or apply to programs on their behalf.

These programs are listed in the Resources tab. Government-funded support programs include:

Communicating with families

Schools must develop and implement a communication strategy so that all families are informed of the school’s financial help for families arrangements by providing multiple, clear and accessible communications throughout the school year. Messaging to families must be:

  • readily available such as on the school website, in enrolment packs, newsletters, within excursion permission forms and published parent payment policy
  • inclusive and use language that is appropriate, non-judgmental and culturally responsive for families from non-English speaking backgrounds
  • translated if required. Schools can access the Victorian Interpreting and Translating Service (refer to PAL topic Interpreting and Translation Services) as a free translation service for key school communications

Recognising financial hardship

Schools must be proactive in sensitively identifying families who may be reluctant to access arrangements and refer them to the nominated parent payment contact to determine if support is needed. 

Schools can implement a process to provide training or information to teaching and administration staff to identify signs of financial hardship. Refer to the resources section for more information. 

Definitions

Financial hardship
Financial hardship refers to an inability for families to pay for school essential or optional items (as detailed in the Parent Payments Policy) due to financial difficulty or circumstance.

Department policy preparing for and supporting families experiencing financial hardship in order to facilitate student participation in the full school program

Reviewed 28 June 2021

Policy last updated

15 June 2020

Scope

  • Schools
  • School councils

Contact

Parent Payments Team Strategy and Integration Division

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