As the June 30 deadline for the Active Kids Vouchers approaches, concerns continue to mount in the community not knowing whether or not they will be continued.
For Dance teacher Michelle Riley the discontinuation of the vouchers will mean some of her students will have to stop dance all together.
“For some of them [students], these vouchers cover 10 weeks of tuition and if the vouchers are taken away those kids won’t have access to all the activities their peers do,” she said.
The Active Kids Voucher is a program that allows parents, guardians, and carers to access two $100 vouchers per school-enrolled child per year to use on annual sport and active recreation activities.
They are a way to encourage kids to try something new and to keep them healthy physically, mentally, and socially.
For dance mum Robyn, dancing is an opportunity for her daughter to expand her social circle and meet like minded kids with totally different personalities.
However, without the vouchers, Robyn is unsure of how much she will be able to afford.
“I have three kids and some of them also play soccer, so the vouchers really do take a lot of pressure of us as parents,” she said.
But the concerns run deeper than just simply not being able to afford sporting costs.
“Another thing to think about is if kids cannot be active, they will put that energy into some other avenue whether that be crime or deteriorating mental health,” another parent added.
“Where does it end? For our kids’ mind, body, and souls, being able to actively be involved in this program allows them to express themselves and grow.
“As these kids are our next generation, I believe ceasing the program will be a great disadvantage.”
Dance Dynamics students with their coach.
In times of high inflation and a deepening cost of living crisis, it is more important than ever to continue these vouchers said Member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson.
“I know how important it is to keep our kids active and engaged in one of their favourite pastimes, getting them off the couch and promoting a healthy lifestyle,” he said.
“When families in our region are telling me they’re struggling to keep up with the cost of mortgage repayments, the cost of groceries, and the cost of fuel, I can’t believe the Labor Government thinks now is a good time to burden them with another $100 per child, per year.”
Mr Anderson has written to the Labor Government, calling on them to immediately provide certainty to local families by committing to the program.
But the Active Kids Vouchers is not the only program up for cancellation. It is also the Creative Kids Vouchers and the First Lap learn to swim vouchers.
The community is desperately pleading for these three programs to continue past June, so kids can continue to lead happy and healthy lives and parents can be happy knowing they can provide experiences like dance and music lessons to their kids.