Educational experiences for school children given a boost under new State Government initiative

Thousands of businesses providing educational experiences for Victorian schoolchildren will be given a boost under the Victorian Government’s $112.9 million Positive Start in 2022 initiative. The funding, announced by Premier Daniel Andrews and Minister for Education James Merlino, aims to get children back enjoying the experiences they missed out on during Victoria’s lockdowns in 2020 and 2021.

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An investment of $84.3 million will deliver additional camps to benefit 81,200 students during school holidays and 2022 school terms – making sure students don’t miss out on vital outdoor education and socialising.

The program will focus on students from government and low-fee non-government schools who have been most affected by COVID-19 school closures – as well as students and schools that might otherwise be unable to participate in an outdoor education or camp program. View the full announcement here.

The Australian Camps Association (ACA) welcomed the announcement, saying the investment into the lives of Victoria’s students goes a long way in supporting their mental health and wellbeing, as we advance along the social and economic road to recovery from the stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a parent himself, ACA CEO, Rod Thomson, said he’s thrilled that the State Government is committed to getting our children and youth outdoors by providing opportunities for them to grow outside the classroom.

“After many months of cancellations and postponements of bookings, caused by numerous lockdowns across Victoria, this new initiative will go a long way in assisting ACA Members and the Camps and Led Outdoor Activity sector more broadly.”

There are approximately 190 camps in Victoria, offering experiences to groups from all backgrounds – schools, faith-based groups, families, sporting clubs, special interests, etc. ACA estimates that the camps sector provides outdoor education programs (focusing on personal development qualities such as resilience, independence, leadership and communication) for in excess of 145,000 Victorian primary and secondary students per year. The sector totals 24,000 beds and turns over around $285 million per year.

Australian Camps Association President, Pam Kappelides, added; “This investment will provide a surety to camp operators and led outdoor activity providers, across the state, that 2022 and beyond will be a positive time for the sector. The program gives acknowledgement to the sector and provides confidence for operators into the year ahead.”

Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chief Executive Paul Guerra said this funding would be a welcome and necessary support for a sector that hasn’t operated in a normal capacity since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Everyone has been affected during this pandemic, none more than children who have missed the magical experience of school camps, excursions and outdoor experiences during each lockdown,” he said.

“Our youth are vital to the future success of our state, so the Victorian Chamber is pleased these businesses are being supported so they can provide children the opportunity to learn some vital skills at camps given they missed out on them last year.”

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