darren.chester.mp@aph.gov.au 1300 131 785
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December 18, 2009

The campaign to improve income support for Gippsland students has received a boost with a Senate Committee recommending the implementation of a Tertiary Access Allowance worth $10,000 per year for students forced to move away from home to attend university.

The Nationals Member for Gippsland Darren Chester described the recommendations in the Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee’s report as ‘a breakthrough for common sense’.

A total of eight recommendations have been made as part of the committee’s inquiry into Rural and Regional Access to Secondary and Tertiary Education Opportunities.

“It’s about time we’ve seen some common sense in the debate and hopefully it will prompt a realisation from the Rudd Labor Government that students from regional areas are being prevented from achieving their full potential because of the extra costs they face when moving away from home to pursue university studies,” Mr Chester said.

“The recommendations put forward by the Senate Committee again highlight why concerned students, parents, teachers and careers officers have been contacting the offices of regional MPs across the country.

“The Education Minister has talked a lot about her so-called ‘Education Revolution’ but has consistently refused to provide additional funding to address the key area of concern: the extra costs for regional students to relocate compared to metropolitan students who have the option of living at home.

“I can’t see how the Labor Party can oppose these proposed measures given a recent State Parliamentary inquiry, Chaired by a MP from their own party, resulted in a similar finding.

“I believe that all students who are forced to move away from home to pursue a university career should receive a Tertiary Access Allowance of this magnitude to help reduce the barriers for regional students. The government should take a close look at these recommendations and introduce them, rather than continuing to wage its war on gap year students which has created the current mess with the Youth Allowance system.”

Mr Chester said he would continue to fight for additional financial support for regional students who wish to pursue their ambitions and attend university.

“We should be doing everything we can to improve equity and access so that regional students and their families can receive the financial support they need to fulfil their ambitions and attend university,” Mr Chester said.

“All regional students who must live away from home to attend university should receive financial support as a means of levelling the playing field with their city counterparts. It shouldn’t be this hard to get a fair go for regional students.”

For a copy of the Senate Committee report please visit -http://www.aph.gov.au/senate/committee/rrat_ctte/rural_and_regional_education/report/index.htm

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