A spokesman for the NSW Department of Education said: “Heads set the level of voluntary school contributions in line with published advice from the department and in consultation with the school community.”
Parents at the Balgowlah Heights Public made the largest amount of voluntary contributions of any elementary school last year, according to the Department of Education. Twice a year, parents receive a request for donations of $450 each. It funds activities such as music and sports, a US$100 contribution to P&C and an US$80 technology levy.
Diana Worman, president of Balgowlah P&C, said parents were raising additional funds for numeracy and literacy resources, books for the library and to fund school upgrades like a new playground.
“Perhaps more important is how a parent can volunteer in the school community — we’ve had parents who fry sausages, sort through lost property, run a garden club, recycle soft plastic, volunteer in our cafeteria, volunteer in our uniform shop, read to children — those kinds of donations are priceless,” she said.
“It’s hard work, it’s an investment of time … it’s a constant search for more volunteers, and that’s the story of every P&C across the state.”
Caleb Taylor, president of Lane Cove Public P&C, said his organization has been running weekday events this year, including a Vivid Cruise and a World Food Fair, to encourage more parents to volunteer.
“Getting out of COVID has been challenging, people have been reluctant. This year we did a good grassroots campaign and had the tagline “Bringing back community in 2023,” he said. Taylor ran as an independent candidate in the 2021 Lane Cove council election.
Lane Cove Public’s P&C operates a canteen and uniform shop; They also generate income by renting musical instruments to students in the band and host a lucrative volunteer run each year that raised $35,000 last year. This event is expected to raise $50,000 in 2023.
The director of the Center for Volunteering for Research, Policy and Advocacy, Dr. Ben Hillier said recruitment has become more difficult this year due to pressure on the cost of living.
“People have to take additional jobs. P&Cs, the state emergency service – everyone feels they aren’t getting as many volunteers, or they say volunteering is changing. A lot of people are doing it remotely…like a phone helpline,” he said.
David Hope, President of P&C District Northern Sydney, said that while parents have less time after working in schools for decades, it has also become more difficult to simply help out in schools.
“As more and more people become less interested in P&C, they will become even less involved with the school in general,” he said.
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