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Gillard refuses meeting with Gap students.

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THE HON DR SHARMAN STONE MP Federal Member for Murray Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship

Wednesday 5 August 2009

Gillard refuses meeting with Gap Students

Federal Minister for Education, Julia Gillard has refused a meeting with local Gap Year students who are disadvantaged by Rudd Labor Government changes to independent Youth Allowance.

Four local students, three parents and a representative from the Local Learning and Employment Network, were to be part of a delegation to visit Parliament House in Canberra between the 17th and 19th of this month. The delegation also included included students, parents and professionals from other regional areas such as Warnambol, Ballarat and Bendigo.

Dr Sharman Stone, Federal Member for Murray, said it was extremely disappointing that Julia Gillard had turned down the opportunity to hear first hand how dramatically these changes will affect rural students needing to move away from home to study next year.

“These students have seen their career prospects challenged since the changes were announced. There are over 30,000 students currently taking a Gap year, so they can afford to attend university next year, whose aspirations have been swept under the rug with the retrospective changes.

“These students have respectfully and responsibly tried in every way to get the Government’s attention and yet Minister Gillard is putting her head in the sand about the issue.”

“The Minister declined to attend a meeting, instead handballing the matter to an adviser.

“My office has spoken to an adviser and written on numerous occasions to try and get the message across without success. The delegation has decided not to spend the money and waste the time on taking the trip to Canberra if they cannot meet with the Minister in person.

“The students travel was to be anonymously sponsored by a concerned local community member who is keen to see the social injustice of these retrospective changes amended as a matter of urgency.

“I have recently written urging the Minister to meet with local representatives in Canberra.

“It seems this government does not care about country students,” Dr Stone said.

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