South West teenagers are better able to follow their education dreams after their access to youth allowance dramatically improved.
They now have the same access to independent youth allowance as other regional students after laws passed through Parliament in November.
The confirmation was welcomed by Federal Member for Forrest Nola Marino who campaigned strongly on behalf of local families for more than two years.
“I am delighted that teenagers and their families now have far more certainty and can get their further education plans back on track,” Mrs Marino said.
“Removing this unfair discrimination will be a benefit to many families with teenage children who need to relocate to attend tertiary education and training.”
Students can now gain independent status for youth allowance after taking one gap year and meeting the criteria.
The new laws have done away with the requirement to work for 30 hours a week for 18 months or work full time while studying.
Mrs Marino fought for families who feared they could not financially support their children.
“The Government’s original decision has had a profound impact on young people and their families,” Mrs Marino said.
There was also a real risk that being forced to take two years away from studies that students could have abandoned their dreams of attending university.
Under changes made by then Education Minister Julia Gillard in 2009, new zones were created which would have penalised high school graduates for where they lived.
Affected areas included Bunbury, Busselton, Collie, Donnybrook, Dunsborough and Harvey.
Mrs Marino made the first move in Parliament to have the changes reversed when she introduced a Private Member’s Motion. She went on to raise the issue a total of nine times in Parliament to keep up pressure on the Government.
People should directly check their individual eligibility with Centrelink by calling 13 24 90.
Youth Allowance Timeline
September, 2011 – The Federal Government backs down on its plan to change Youth Allowance criteria. Regional students will now share the same criteria as metropolitan counterparts.
March, 2011 – Mrs Marino presents a petition to Parliament signed by thousands of people across Australia who are strongly opposed to Youth Allowance changes.
November, 2010 – A Senate inquiry is called to investigate youth allowance access for students whose home is located in an ‘Inner Regional’ area.
October, 2010 – Mrs Marino introduces a Private Member’s motion on Youth Allowance calling for changes which do not disadvantage regional families.
September 2009 – Then education Minister Julia Gillard introduces her Youth Allowance legislation which will changes the rules for Independent Youth Allowance.
After studying in Perth last year on a limited youth allowance payment (because we live in Busselton: ‘inner regional’), our daughter will now receive payments based on independent status.
This makes an enormous difference for her and us, as we were preparing for the possibility that she would not be able to continue studying in Perth.
Thank you for raising this issue on our behalf.
It is comforting to know that we do have real representation in Parliament.
The revocation of the Youth allowance changes is a significant milestone for us! In short it now means that our son who had a gap year in 2009 and attended Uni in 2010 will be eligible to apply for the full independant rate as opposed to the dependant rate he received of $125 per fortnight.
With a relatively low combined parental taxable income of $53,000 and a son who was carrying a heavy study load with an in ability to work whilst at Uni our family had incurred ongoing debt in order to support him through the year.
We are very grateful to Nola’s determination and resilience and it was a pleasure being in a position to support Nola when called upon.
Costly move avoided
The change back to a workable Youth Allowance for country students has now enabled our third child to attended university (like her brother who receives Youth Allowance) and achieve her goal of further education. Her course was unavailable in Bunbury
We were at the point of me relocating to Perth, finding work outside our business to support her, and travelling back and forward between Perth and Bunbury to try and run our business that is based in the Southwest
Our fourth child would have had to managed on her own doing year 12 with hardly any support from my husband or I as the nature of our business takes him away regularly from home to work in remote areas
We can now rest easy knowing she will be able to support herself and study at the same time while we can give our Year 12 student the encouragement and help that were given to our other children in Year 12.