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Govt must heed students'; Greens' concerns and amend Youth Allowance legislation before it reaches Senate.

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Sarah Hanson-Young

Govt must heed students’, Greens’ concerns and amend Youth Allowance legislation before it reaches Senate

Media Release | Spokesperson Sarah Hanson-Young

Monday 24th August 2009, 4:27pm


• Student Income Support

• Tertiary Education

• Youth Affairs

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young says the Federal Government must amend its Youth Allowance

Budget measures legislation to accommodate current gap year students who have been blocked from

qualifying as independent by the Government’s proposed changes*.

Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard today held a roundtable meeting with young people affected by the

Government’s proposed changes to Youth Allowance, and announced afterwards that the Government

would consider the students’ concerns and respond “in due course”.

“The Deputy Prime Minister must amend her Youth Allowance legislation before it reaches the Senate - or

else the Greens will do it for her,” said Senator Hanson-Young, Greens spokesperson for Education and


“The Government’s response today stopped short of admitting it has made a major blunder in cutting off

current gap year students from qualifying for independent Youth Allowance to sustain them at university

next year.

“However, the Deputy Prime Minister’s announcement that the Government would respond in due course

to concerns has laid the foundation for the embarrassing backflip that must follow the public outcry over its

unfair changes.”

Senator Hanson-Young said the education sector should not have been targeted for savings in the May


“Young Australians aspiring to higher education - especially the large numbers of gap year students in

rural and regional areas - should not be left carrying the can in the name of Budget savings,” she said.

“The Deputy Prime Minister herself said today that country students had been left behind by the previous

Government, yet the Rudd Government has delivered only a Budget-neutral package for its ‘Education


“At a time when the job market is contracting, and young people are turning to further education, retraining

and upskilling to better their work prospects, we should be supporting them in doing so, not making it


“Other areas of the Budget - for example, tax cuts for high-income earners - could have been looked at to

save those dollars.

“The Greens will also move to have a new eligibility criterion included in the independence test for Youth

Allowance, 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.”

* The workforce participation eligibility criterion used by many young people from rural and regional

Australia to qualify for the independent rate of Youth Allowance (earning $19,532 in an 18-month period

during a ‘gap year’) is scheduled to end on January 1, 2010, excluding many aspiring university students

from support in 2011.