Youth to work harder

STUDENTS from ‘inner regional’ areas including Grafton will have to put their noses to the grindstone if they want to be eligible for Youth Allowance, following a Senate agreement made on Tuesday.

The deal, struck between the Opposition and Government, will mean students from outer regional and remote areas will be exempt from the tighter eligibility rules, but those from inner areas, such as Grafton and Maclean, will face the new requirements along with their city-dwelling counterparts.

The new rules will require students to work almost doubly as hard – 30 hours a week for 18 months, compared to the existing 15 hours a week over two years – to prove themselves independent and eligible for the allowance.

Federal Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker described the agreement as ‘grossly unfair’ for inner regional students, who often move away from home to access a tertiary education.

“This is a complex, inequitable way of excluding thousands of regional students from accessing Youth Allowance,” Mr Hartsuyker said.

He said the plan meant a gap year for students from towns like Maclean and Grafton was ‘no longer an option’.

However, Mr Hartsuyker applauded the Government’s proposed changes to make eligibility no longer retrospective – meaning students who completed their gap year in 2009 will be assessed against the existing guidelines.

“This is a big win for those students who last year, in good faith, decided to work for a year before commencing their studies.”

Youth Allowance Reforms

 Criteria of 30 hours/week work for 18 months for students from ‘inner regional’ and city areas.

 Existing criteria of 15 hours/week work over two years to remain applicable for those from ‘outer regional’, ‘remote’ and ‘very remote’ areas, subject to their parents earning less than $150,000.

 Scholarships for 150,000-plus students.

 Reforms aimed at saving Government $1.8 billion over four years.

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