Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young says the Greens will move to amend the controversial Youth Allowance budget measures legislation when it reaches the Senate, to accommodate geographically disadvantaged students.
The Social Security and Other Legislation Amendment (Income Support for Students) Bill 2009 was introduced in the House of Representatives today, providing for budget measures relating to the Youth Allowance student income support payment.
“The Greens will be moving to amend the legislation when it reaches the Senate, to create an eligibility criterion for geographically disadvantaged students, who have no choice but to leave home to attend university,” said Senator Hanson-Young, Greens spokesperson for Education and Youth.
“While the Government has seen the fairness in backing down on the start date of its Youth Allowance eligibility changes to accommodate current gap year students who must leave home to study, it’s not enough to help future aspiring university students from those areas.
“It’s not fair to take away the eligibility criterion commonly used by young people in rural and regional areas to qualify for Youth Allowance, without replacing it with a comparable option.
“Unless a geographically disadvantaged eligibility criterion is created for Youth Allowance, the younger brothers and sisters of current gap year students from rural and regional Australia will face the same struggles as their older peers.”
The Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee’s Inquiry into Rural and Regional access to Secondary and Tertiary Education Opportunities is ongoing and due to report by October 29.
“We should be supporting students at a time when we know the job market is tightening and more young people are turning to higher education to upskill,” said Senator Hanson-Young.
“The Government has created a problem for itself by not putting one extra dollar into funding student income support.
“While we’re trying to boost the economy, education should be the last place we accept budget cuts.
“The Greens look forward to negotiating with the Government over this legislation, as it still has a long way to go to make sure it’s giving students the support they need.”