Easing the Cost of School Expenses for NSW Families and Stimulating NSW Businesses through the Back-to-School Voucher Program

  • 2023

  • Service
    Public Sector Services

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To help struggling families send their kids to school, Service NSW designed the Back-to-School Voucher program.

The program improves the affordability of school supplies through 3x $50 vouchers at 2300 registered businesses, including for the first time, major retailers across NSW. The program generated $144.1m in support since December 2022.

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Image: Sunday Telegraph
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  • Families are finding it tougher than ever from cost-of-living rises. Basic school supplies have soared to $500+ per child. Lack of supplies is a common reason kids miss the start of school and don’t participate in school activities that benefit their wellbeing and build connection with their peers. Current programs fail to realistically support families in getting kids to school. With too strict eligibility, limited options, and cumbersome registrations that disadvantage the already time poor and overwhelmed. NSW Government needed to get support to families that was widespread, easily accessible, and offered the flexibility needed to be tangible and impactful.

  • ur Back-to-School Voucher Program provides families with 3x$50 vouchers towards school supplies for each primary, secondary, and home-schooled child. Our program capitalises off an established method to deliver support but maximises its impact with flexible voucher terms and the ability to pool vouchers together. By co-designing with partners, our frontline and product teams, families now have freedom to register, access vouchers, and find support across more channels – website, phone, service centres, and in-person. Our program is uplifted by a new online Voucher Profile which gives families a simple voucher dashboard and proactive access to additional support programs across NSW Government.

  • The program saw 350k voucher requests, totalling $17.7m, in one day on launch 12 December 2022. More than 1m families benefited from the program and $144.1m redeemed at NSW businesses. The program marks our largest collaboration within the retail space with 2300 businesses participating in the program – including large retail chains for the first time. Our Voucher Profile has been scaled and adopted for more support programs in NSW Government. Our program has an 80.5% voucher redemption rate and sentiment skyrocketed to 98.3% – validating the programs impact on families and value it provides in supporting kids.

  • Online voucher profile and proactive access Securely store details for future voucher applications, be recommended other programs based on eligibility, and eligible customers who previously shared their details automatically given access without needing to apply. Greater flexibility through voucher pooling The ability to pool vouchers together towards the same purchase at the same store without a cap on maximum spend – even for vouchers issued for different applicants. Business enhancements Businesses can now bulk-upload multiple locations during registration, benefit from multi-factor authentication for high-risk transactions, and our redesigned voucher codes are readable by some barcode scanners for a seamless adoption in store. Equitable and omnichannel access Redemption and registration accessible online, in-person, and through service centres. 17,200 applications successfully completed at service centres. Two-term voucher validity. Vouchers valid for first and second school term. Reducing pressure on families to redeem vouchers and allowing for more families to make use of the program. An improved approach to vouchers Using a method of support customers are familiar with and addressing key pain-points to further maximise how vouchers can successfully deliver support. Greater convenience and variety A wider pool of businesses, including larger retailers, allowing greater access and convenience to redeem where you want.