Term 3 has marked the return to school sites for more of the flood impacted school communities across the Northern Rivers and North Coast as the recovery effort continues.
Acting Premier Paul Toole, Nationals Minister for Education and Early Learning Sarah Mitchell, and Nationals Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience and Minister for Flood Recovery Steph Cooke have visited Blakebrook Public school, one of nine schools now back in action, following February’s flooding event.
Mr Toole said getting students back to their normal place of learning after almost five months of learning off site was a crucial part of the recovery process.
“As a former teacher, I know just how important it is to get kids back into classrooms in a familiar school setting after everything they’ve been through,” Mr Toole said.
“For these school communities, it’s another important step towards returning to normality and helping kids focus their energies on learning and just being kids.
“The NSW Government is committed to supporting that recovery with a $67 million Education Flood Recovery Support Package, which offers a range of measures to ensure continuity of learning, while also supporting the wellbeing of our school staff and students.”
More than 3,500 school staff have accessed the emergency grants, providing teaching staff up to $1,000 and non-teaching staff up to $500 to replace equipment damaged by the floods.
More than 28,000 students across the Northern Rivers and North Coast have been allocated support through the Education Hardship Fund grants, providing $500 for items and activities to support learning and wellbeing.
The package includes psychology and counselling support with more than 1,300 staff across early childhood services, schools and TAFE able to access services.
More than $1.9 million has been provided to 74 Early Childhood Education and Care services for Flood Recovery Grants to improve physical and educational learning environments.
Ms Mitchell said it was fantastic to be at Blakebrook Public School, seeing the smiles on the faces of both students and staff.
“Our schools are central to the recovery and resilience of the Northern Rivers and North Coast communities, and they have been incredible in their ongoing response to the catastrophic flooding,” Ms Mitchell said.
“The NSW Government is working to ensure that our early childhood and care services and schools can replace valuable resources and assets, so our staff and students can return to their education.
Ms Cooke said getting schools and early childhood and care services operating again was a key part of the flood recovery.
“Schools are the hubs of local communities, particularly for small towns across the Northern Rivers region, which is why it’s so important to have them repaired and operational as soon as possible,” Ms Cooke said.
“I visited Blakebrook Public School in the immediate aftermath of the flood event in early March, and to return today to see the strength, determination and resilience from each student and staff member has been inspiring.”
Contracts have been awarded for remediation work at the following locations:
· Crabbes Creek Public School
· Lismore Public School
· Maclean High School
· Main Arm Upper Public School
· Mullumbimby Public School
· Mullumbimby High School
· Wyrallah Public School
The NSW Government is continuing to support the Northern Rivers and North Coast to ensure they get back on their feet.