FAMILIES struggling to afford school fees will be able to apply for assistance under a new short-term program administered by JCA.
The program, StudentKeeper, joins a series of community initiatives from JCA and its constituent organisations to ease burdens faced across the community as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Member organisations are seeing a continuing demand for support services across community care, aged-care respite and home support, mental health and wellbeing and Jewish education,” JCA CEO Alain Hasson said, adding that for many, it was the first time they have sought assistance.
The Jewish Emergency Relief Fund, established with JewishCare, has paid almost $500,000 to around 120 families so far. JewishCare has also provided more than $17,000 in energy payment vouchers, arranged for financial counselling and negotiated over $20,000 in debt waivers.
Financial stress and isolation have also taken a toll on community mental health and wellbeing, with JewishCare seeing increased activity from existing domestic violence clients and planning a new community-wide strategy to help counter domestic abuse. More than 250 community members have participated in 17 mental health first aid and suicide prevention training sessions, with the goal of training over 900 people by the end of 2021.
In the second quarter of 2020 COA’s Kosher Meals on Wheels delivered 22,229 meals compared with 6406 in the same period in 2019 and provided fresh food parcels to more than 500 households.
More than 100 elderly have taken up Montefiore’s ongoing complimentary two-week respite stay offer. Monte has also been offering video and phone companionship sessions and assistance with online shopping, while Friends of Montefiore’s volunteer and intergenerational programs have continued remotely to maintain community connections and resident wellbeing.
Funded by an anonymous donor through the JCA Millie Phillips Jewish Education Fund, StudentKeeper will allow eligible families to apply through their children’s schools for a one-time voucher per student towards term 1, 2021, fees.
“We are extremely fortunate to be part of such a vibrant and caring community that can support each other through a pandemic or any other challenges we may face in the future,” Hasson said.
Hasson said the support the community is able to provide is “only achievable” due to support from donors, JCA’s 23 member organisations and thousands of volunteers. “For this, I and JCA are extremely grateful,” he said, adding, “There are still many people in need who are unaware of the services available to them and we encourage them to reach out for help.”
JCA: (02) 9360 2344 or jca.org.au.