family with children smiling holding new backpacks
Photo provided by: Kingston East Neighbourhood Group

As children and young people returned to school this week, Neighbourhood and Community Centres across Queensland identified thousands of families struggling to afford the school essentials such as stationery, textbooks, uniforms and school fees as cost-of-living pressures continue to increase.  For children and young people returning to school without the essentials they need, they are at risk of being unable to fully participate in learning activities, access laptops, and even play outside without a hat.

In addition to the ongoing supports and programs Neighbourhood and Community Centres
provide, many centres are delivering innovative, community-led and place-based initiatives to help their communities prepare for their children’s return to school.

  • The team at Kingston East Neighbourhood Group (KENG) organises and distributes ‘Back to School packs’ for the kids that need them in their Logan community each year. The packs include a brand-new backpack, essential school stationery supplies, along with lunchboxes, hats and drink bottles.
    KENG recognises how tough the return to school can be for families struggling financially, and say they want to “ensure their young ones start school on an even playing field.”
  • Mareeba Community Centre collected financial and physical donations of school supplies, then delivered these to the local primary schools who distribute them to children in need.
  • Alongside donations, Bowen Neighbourhood Centre and Bundaberg Neighbourhood Centre are supporting families by providing no interest loans (NILS) for back-to-school essential items. This is a helpful scheme for parents who need to provide their children with more expensive items such as laptops and textbooks.
  • A large number of centres have connected with other organisations to provide support. Hambledon House and Marlin Coast Neighbourhood Centre have partnered with School Savvy to host school supply pop-up shops. These shops give families an opportunity to purchase essential items such as uniforms and stationery at heavily discounted prices.

These are just some initiatives of the incredible efforts Neighbourhood and Community Centres make to ensure equality and inclusion for their communities. NCC’s recognise that every child deserves to attend school feeling prepared and with the tools they need to make the most of their education.

Em James, CEO of the peak body Neighbourhood Centres Queensland, said “Never before have we seen so many families seeking support from their local Neighbourhood or Community Centre. Neighbourhood Centres are working alongside their communities to ensure that every child and young person is included in learning and school social activities, regardless of the financial situation they are in.”

“Centres offer a personal approach and actively strengthen the inclusiveness, accessibility and safety of their local communities in ways that bring communities together to solve challenges.” Em said.

Want to help?
For individuals and organisations interested in helping with back-to-school initiatives, they are encouraged reach out to their local Neighbourhood or Community Centre and offer their in kind, financial or volunteer support. Find your local centre and their contact details using the Find-a-centre map available on the NCQ website here:

Seeking support?
For those needing support or assistance getting their children back to school, they’re welcomed to reach out to their local Neighbourhood or Community Centre to see what initiatives they have. Find your local centre and their contact details using the Find-a-centre map available on the NCQ website here:


Written By: Taylor Bast
Edited By: Melanie Maher
Published: January 2023