The unprecedented recovery work the NSW Government is undertaking to ensure that the 178 schools in bushfire-affected communities are repaired and cleaned for staff and students for the first day of school will be a “mammoth task” with a price tag of approximately $20 million, according to Minister of Education Sarah Mitchell.
Stephen Bromhead, Member of the NSW Parliament for Myall Lakes, recently visited the reconstruction of Bobin Public School, which is on track to be ready for students on the first day of term.
“Communities in both Northern and Southern NSW have experienced an absolutely harrowing bushfire season, impacting many of our local schools,” Mitchell said.
“We have seen school damage ranging from critical in the communities of Bobin and Wytaliba, to lost fences, burnt outdoor play equipment and contamination from ash and fire retardant across other parts of the state.”
According to Mitchell, schools are at the “heart of communities” and “will play an important role in the recovery from these fires.”
“It’s crucial for students to be reconnected with friends, share stories, and return to their school routine after what has been a traumatic time,” she said.
“Thanks to the efforts of department staff, emergency services, RFS, and local tradies we expect all schools to be open for the first day of term.”
Mitchell also welcomed the additional funding from the Federal Government, saying it “will ease the pressure on families when it comes to back-to-school preparations, with the payments helping out with school necessities” that may have been lost in the fires.
The NSW Government is also set to implement several additional strategies to help staff and students as they return to school.
"We are very aware of the emotional impacts these bushfires have had on students across the State, so we will be focusing heavily on ensuring appropriate mental health support is available at every affected school," Mitchell said.
“We're also looking at support for Principals and teaching staff to ensure they are properly equipped with the knowledge and skills to deal with recovering school communities.”