A NEW flat-rate subsidy will address inconsistencies in reimbursements for the financial cost of driving children to school in remote areas. In what has been hailed as a much fairer system, from February next year, parents can claim 66 cents a kilometre on one trip for school drop-offs.
The system will complement the existing Private Vehicle Conveyance (PVC) system, which is determined on a sliding scale, and had many inconsistencies. Also, the new School Drive Subsidy (SDS) will have a cap on travel of 300km removed, allowing a higher subsidy for parents driving the long distance to take children to boarding school.
Claire Butler, “The Vale”, Balranald, says the subsidy had meant the difference for her family of either putting children into distance education or making the effort to drive them to school so they could enjoy sport, education and social benefits. She drives 200km a day to take her child to school and back with two return trips.
“We don’t have a bus service so I have no choice but to drive if I want them to go to school in Balranald. I gave up my job to do so, so my children could enjoy the benefits of socialising at school. This new scheme is a lot better,” she said.
Under the PVC she would have received $10 a day driving one child, and about $20 a day when she drove three, before her older children went to boarding school. The new system will deliver about $33 a day for driving her younger child to primary school. Mrs Butler said the old scheme had inconsistencies where sometimes people received a higher subsidy just because they had more children in a car, despite driving a shorter distance.
“The flat rate of 66 cents per kilometre (one way daily journey) instead of the previous sliding scale per child rate under the PVC makes the scheme much fairer for all families who travel by private car to school or transport points,” said Isolated Children Parents Association of NSW president Kate Treweeke.
“Many of our members travel huge distances to educate their children and a flat rate per vehicle is something the ICPA has been working with Transport for NSW for many years (since 2003) to achieve.
The ICPA said distance education families who travel for mini schools throughout the year and families with children in boarding school are also eligible. Families who have been using the existing PVC scheme will be able to choose whether or not to transfer to the new SDS scheme. No new applications for PVC will be accepted after December 20, 2016, the ICPA said. Applications for the new SDS for 2017 open on January 17, 2017.