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Thursday, 29 May 1997
Page: 3938

To the Honourable the President and Members of Senate assembled:

That we are opposed to the unfair and inequitable assessment of AUSTUDY eligibility through the implementation of the new (and recently revised) regulations pertaining to the Actual Means Test and the raising of the age of independence for student income support to 25. We believe that AUSTUDY/ ABSTUDY benefits play a vital role in ensuring a broadly accessible higher education system, which is in turn fundamental to efforts in creating a more just and equitable society.

In particular, the Actual Means Test and raised age of independence have the effect of:

   forcing students to become reliant on their parents and families for support during their studies despite their family's capacity or willingness to perform this role;

   reducing access to higher education for people from disadvantaged backgrounds;

   further shifting the cost of higher education from the public realm into the private domain;

   further complicating the AUSTUDY application process thereby deterring students from applying and

   forcing some students out of study or into dire poverty in order to continue their studies.

Your petitioners therefore request that the Senate lower the age of independence for AUSTUDY to 18, to entirely revoke the ill-considered and inequitable Actual Means Test and raise AUSTUDY benefits to a level above the Henderson poverty line.