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Extension of income support payments to new apprentices.

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Media Release

Extension of income support payments to new apprentices 17 March, 2005

Today, the Minister for Vocational and Technical Education, Gary Hardgrave, introduced the Social Security Amendment (Extension of Youth Allowance and Austudy eligibility to New Apprentices) Bill 2005 to Parliament.

Mr Hardgrave said the Bill delivers on the Howard Government’s election commitment to extend eligibility to Youth Allowance and Austudy payments to full-time New Apprentices.

“This important Bill will provide payments worth $383.2 million over the next three years as part of the Australian Government’s commitment to further expand our skilled workforce, address skills needs and encourage people to participate in New Apprenticeships,” Mr Hardgrave said.

Part-time and School-Based New Apprentices have already been able to qualify for Youth Allowance, but for the first time full-time apprentices and trainees participating under the New Apprentices scheme will be able to access Youth Allowance, Austudy and ABSTUDY payments. This will help ease the financial burden faced in the initial years of their training.

“The Government anticipates this measure will improve New Apprenticeship retention, particularly in the early years, and could potentially benefit up to 93,000 Australians over the next three years” Mr Hardgrave said.

The initiative will target New Apprentices on low incomes, generally in the early stages of their apprenticeships when their incomes are at their lowest. Claimants will be subject to the same parental, personal and partner means testing arrangements as currently apply under the payments.

“New Apprentices are vital to our continued economic competitiveness, performance and growth. In the 2004/05 financial year, the Australian Government is spending $738 million on New Apprenticeships as part of its recurrent funding of $2.1 billion,” Mr Hardgrave said.

Media Contact: Suzanne Ferguson 0402 896 100