State Schools’ Relief, a Victorian not for profit, has established a partnership with Bank First and Gandel Philanthropy, to provide 180 iPads for non-verbal school children, allowing them to communicate with their families, teachers, carers and friends through the app ‘Words for Life’.

Bank First (formerly Victoria Teachers Mutual Bank), in conjunction with Gandel Philanthropy, one of Australia’s largest independent family philanthropic funds, have jointly donated $80k to purchase the iPads which will be distributed to nonverbal school students attending one of more than the 80 specialist schools located within Victoria.

State Schools’ Relief, is a Victorian based not for profit organisation that supports the needs of financially disadvantaged students by providing them with new school uniforms, footwear and educational resources during times of vulnerability and has assisted over 56,000 children throughout 2018.

Sue Karzis, CEO of State Schools’ Relief, believes that by providing nonverbal children with an iPad enables them to have their own voice at all times.

“At SSR we believe in removing barriers to education. The provision of iPads for non-verbal children in specialist schools is one way that we can ensure that no child or young person is left behind. With the generous support of Bank First and Gandel Philanthropy, we will be providing iPads to children and young people in need, so that we can give them the means of communication. This program will be transformational for the young people involved and SSR is proud to be able to provide this support,” she says.

William Wolke, CEO of Bank First, said that he is proud of the long-standing relationship with State Schools’ Relief, who continue to work towards securing the wellbeing of Victorian students by removing barriers to their participation in school and encouraging their success in education.

“This partnership demonstrates our values, as we are a bank that believes in empowering communities.  By supporting people who build our communities we ensure that we do not lose sight of what matters,” he says.

“Every year, we support organisations, programs and people that make a real difference in the Victorian education community and the environment. As a customer owned bank, we believe in getting behind worthwhile causes such as this”.

CEO of Gandel Philanthropy, Vedran Drakulic believes it’s important to address barriers to full and unconstrained education for students with specific needs.

“For these students, and for those that care about them, having the means to communicate in their own voice will be life-changing. The flexibility to use the iPads and ‘Words for Life’ app both at school and at home will no doubt have a strong, positive and lasting impact on their learning, communication and increase in self-confidence,” he says.

Where schools have the resources, students will be supported with individual training sessions in how to use their device to better enable them in making an impact on the world around them.

Teachers of nonverbal students are encouraged to apply for iPads via the State Schools’ Relief website https://ssr.net.au/schools/ and applications are open from the 29th January 2019.