Soaring back-to-school demands and cost of living pressures are seeing many Ballarat families struggling to afford uniforms and other school necessities.
Last financial year, State Schools Relief supported more than 1400 primary and secondary school students across Ballarat, supplying uniform items, shoes, underwear, books and items such as calculators.
Across Ballarat during 2017/18, 5244 individual items were distributed worth $145,644.
At one Ballarat primary school almost two thirds of students receive SSR support, with at least a quarter of students at several other primary and secondary schools receiving a helping hand for their school needs.
State Schools Relief chief executive Sue Karzis said cost of living pressures, domestic violence and homelessness were driving demand up across the state.
She said there were "pockets of need" across Ballarat, with Sebastopol a particular hotspot.
"We know cost of living pressures are really, really tough for many families. It can cost thousands of dollars sending kids to school … which many struggling families can't possibly afford.
"With bills coming in and many families in a position of hardship, those additional costs can be too much."
Across the state the charity received 56,142 applications in 2017/18, a 23 per cent increase on the previous year.
Part of the increase came from a change which automatically entitles families who receive the state government's camps, sports and excursion funding (CSEF) to receive a subsidised uniform pack for students starting prep and year seven.
Applications for family violence and homelessness assistance increased 35 per cent and 36 per cent respectively, and applications for financial hardship increased 24 per cent over the previous two years.
Ms Karzis said in an emergency, uniform packages could be in a child's hands within 48 hours.
Schools can apply to SSR on behalf of students, with items given directly to the children.
"It's really important for them to feel like everyone else," she said. "It's the worst thing to feel you don't belong, or look different, and that's sometimes what teachers notice."
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