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Time for Labor Government to set its Youth Allowance debacle straight

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THE HON DR SHARMAN STONE MP Federal Member for Murray

Monday 25 October 2010

Time for Labor Government to set its Youth Allowance Debacle straight

As year 12 students across rural Australia finished their final week of schooling, the Gillard Labor Government has the future of inner regional students in its hands.

Last week the Coalition put forward a motion in parliament calling on the Government to ensure students living in inner regional areas (as classified by the Australian Standard Geographical Classification Instrument) have access to a more equitable Independent Youth Allowance.

Speaking in parliament Dr Sharman Stone, Federal Member for Murray, said it is a serious battle for rural students.

“After endless protest Labor altered its Independent Youth Allowance criteria that would have all students working for 30 hours a week for 18 months in a 2 year period. This allowed students in remote and outer regional areas to apply via the old Coalition rules which would not disadvantage them.

“Unfortunately the vast majority of regional students are zoned Inner regional.

“Small towns like Boort, Dingee, Inglewood, Cobram, Barman, Prairie, Bridgewater and Rheola are all classified as inner regional even though the nearest universities that teach the courses chosen are hours away. They simply can not live in the family home, unlike city based students.

“According to a Goulburn Murray Local Learning and Education Network study, only 29 percent of students in the Goulburn Murray area went to university as opposed to the 44 percent average for the rest of the state. This difference was accounted for by parents who said they could not afford the $20,000 a year it costs for their child to live away from home to study. It is no surprise that 43.1 percent of people in the study responded that financial pressures on the family were the reason tertiary places had not been taken up, or that 46% said the cost of study was the reason their family members could not go to university.

“The Labor Government is making it impossible for inner regional students to break out of future poverty by being able to access their tertiary education offer,” Sharman Stone said.

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