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Transcript of doorstop interview: Wednesday, November 26 2003: Student Financial Supplement Scheme.\n\n

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TRANSCRIPT OF DOORSTOP Wednesday, November 26 12.45 pm

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Subject: Student Financial Supplement Scheme

Collins: The Senate is today dealing with attempts by the government to close the Student Financial Supplement Scheme. This is a scheme that offers financial support to 40,000 students today. So in the context of the current limbo for higher education support the government is proceeding with an attempt to close one important option of finance which is available to students.

The government has also indicated that it will seek to proceed with this measure despite what the Senate determines, so on the one hand Minister Nelson is negotiating with the independents over higher education funding as a whole, but on the other hand he is telling the Senate that ‘despite what we determine, he will attempt to find another way to close the student financial supplement scheme’.

Members of Parliament across all parties have been inundated with letters from students saying that whilst this scheme may not be the most effective form of finance, it is critical to their survival, and critical to maintaining them as students. It is critical to support young people and their families as they engage with the education system, and the government is ignoring these cries.

Meanwhile Labor’s response has been to propose that rent assistance should be extended to Austudy recipients, and also that the age of independence for students and young people should be lowered. This government increased the age of independence and put tremendous pressure on families with students. Labor proposes that we start that trend backwards and we reduce the age of independence with respect to students downwards. This is an important measure for Labor and we are opposing the closure of the Student Financial Supplement Scheme because it is an important option for families that are already struggling to keep young people in the education system.


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