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Greens call on Government to back Greens’ Youth Allowance amendments after roundtable

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young says the Deputy Prime Minister’s Youth Allowance roundtable today should spur the Government to back the Greens’ amendments to the proposed changes to student income support.

The workforce participation eligibility criterion used by many young people from rural and regional areas to qualify for the independent rate of Youth Allowance through a ‘gap year’ is scheduled to end on January 1, 2010, due to May Budget measures.

Senator Hanson-Young, Greens spokesperson for Education and Youth, said the Greens will move amendments to the Youth Allowance eligibility criteria to better support students from rural and regional areas who have no choice but to leave their family home to pursue higher education.

“At a minimum, current gap year students working towards qualifying as independent from their parents via the work eligibility criteria should be accommodated, by the cut-off date being amended to January 1, 2011,” she said.

“The Greens further recommend that a new eligibility criterion be created to accommodate geographically disadvantaged students, who can adequately prove to Centrelink that they have had to move out of their family home to go to university or TAFE.”

Senator Hanson-Young said the Greens had called for the Government to reconsider its rash decision on some of the Youth Allowance changes since May.

“It’s as though the Government worked out these new rules on the back of an envelope, with little thought about their impact on rural, regional and current gap year students.

“The Greens have been standing up for the young people affected since Budget Week, hosting the first delegation of gap year students in federal parliament so they could raise their concerns directly with their representatives, visiting students, parents and teachers in regional towns to hear their stories, and moving for a Senate Inquiry.

“The thousands of signatures on the Greens’ petition is just a sample of the families affected by the proposed changes to Youth Allowance, and it is heartening that the Government has finally started to listen to them.

“The Greens are glad that the plight of current gap year students and aspiring students from rural and regional Australia is finally being heard by the Deputy Prime Minister.”

The Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee’s Inquiry into Rural and Regional Access to Secondary and Tertiary Education Opportunities, established by Senators Hanson-Young and Nash, is due to report back by 29 October 2009.

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