The Federal Labor Government’s decision to delay changes to youth allowance until June next year is an admission that the changes are bad for Victorian students and must be scrapped, Member for Gippsland South and Leader of the Nationals Peter Ryan has said.
Pressure from students and the Victorian Liberal Nationals Coalition Wednesday forced Federal Education Minister Julia Gillard to delay the changes to youth allowance, meaning students currently on a gap year would no longer be unfairly disadvantaged.
“It is pleasing that the current crop of gap year students will gain some certainty over their future, however students who will complete year 12 this year or next will still be severely disadvantaged by the changes,” Mr Ryan said.
Mr Ryan said the concession was not enough to stem widespread anger over the Minister’s plan to force students to work a minimum of 30 hours a week for 18 months to qualify for assistance.
“The Minister’s partial back down is an admission that her plan would prevent many young people from taking up a place at university,” Mr Ryan said.
“However this announcement does nothing to help students who will complete Year 12 this year or next. These students will still be forced to delay their studies for more than 18 months, with many forced to wait the full two years before the start of the next academic year, if they make it at all.
“It is almost inconceivable that the government plans to take financial assistance away from young people, despite an all-party parliamentary committee finding that it should, in fact, be increasing support.
“The committee found economic difficulties were the main reason why a third of regional students deferred their university offer, and recommended that all students who have to leave home to attend university be eligible for financial assistance.
“It’s time the Rudd Government paid heed to such recommendations – and to young people as well – and dropped these disastrous changes altogether.”
Mr Ryan said it was also about time the Brumby Labor Government got behind Victorian students and asked the Rudd Labor Government to drop its changes to youth allowance.
“The Brumby Government has been a vocal supporter of the Federal Government’s plan to change the eligibility for youth allowance,” Mr Ryan said.
“It must now stand up for its constituency and be honest about the disastrous effects this plan will have on young people across Victoria.”