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Community Corps won't help country students.

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Federal Member for Wannon

Hamilton Office 190 Gray St, HAMILTON VIC 3300 Warrnambool Office 73 Kepler St WARRNAMBOOL VIC 3280 Freecall 1300 131 692 E W

Federal Member for Wannon

30 January 2009


City-based university students living at home with their parents will be the big beneficiaries of the Rudd Government’s HECS debt discounts, while country students struggling to pay the rent simply won’t have the time to participate, Federal Member for Wannon, David Hawker, said today.

“This idea is deeply flawed,” Mr Hawker said. “It is a program that will advantage only certain students, those that are already relatively well off.”

Mr Hawker said most university students from rural areas are working in what spare time they have to pay rent in the city while studying.

“These students will struggle to find the time to volunteer as well,” he said.

“City students living at home with their parents will be the ones that have the time to participate and therefore enjoy the benefits.

“We already know that rural students take up tertiary education at only two thirds the rate that city students do, primarily because of the cost constraints related to moving to and renting in the city.

“Under this proposal, once again the plight of rural students is ignored.”

Mr Hawker said offering incentives to some people to volunteer in certain areas could also amount to a disincentive for volunteers who offer their services out of a desire to serve the community.

“Labor’s Community Corps suggests that University students and graduates should get a financial benefit for volunteering, while those who have not had the opportunity to benefit from a university education should not benefit from this financial reward either,” he said.

“I strongly support volunteering, and encourage everyone who is able to participate as a volunteer, but this idea has nothing going for it and will certainly not help rural students struggling to gain a tertiary qualification.”

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Media contact: Jane Templeton (03) 5572 1100