darren.chester.mp@aph.gov.au 1300 131 785
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January 19, 2010

The Rudd Labor Government has warned students who finished Year 12 in 2009 that it intends to press ahead with changes to the Youth Allowance system that will make it more difficult for regional students planning to undertake a ‘gap’ year.

The government has placed advertisements in daily newspapers which warn students that changes proposed in the May 2009 Budget had not been approved by Parliament but would be considered again “early this year”.

The advertisement states:
“Students finishing Year 12 now and considering taking a gap year before going to uni should be aware that the current arrangements would change if the government’s legislation is approved.”

The Nationals Member for Gippsland Darren Chester said the uncertainty over future Youth Allowance arrangements was causing additional stress for students as they planned for the future.

“The advertisements are an admission by the Labor Government that it has made a mess of its proposed changes and students can’t plan with certainty for 2010,” Mr Chester said.

“Fixing the Youth Allowance debacle should be one of the highest priorities when Federal Parliament resumes in the first week of February.

“The changes which were first proposed by the government and were rejected by all opposition parties were unfair because of the retrospective treatment of gap year students.

“There needs to be a greater commitment to levelling the playing field between students who attend secondary school in regional areas and their metropolitan counterparts.

“Last month a Senate Committee inquiry made eight recommendations including the implementation of a Tertiary Access Allowance worth $10,000 per year for students forced to move away from home to attend university.

“The State Parliament made similar recommendations in 2009 when an inquiry, which was led by a Labor MP from Ballarat, found that all students required to move away from home should be entitled to greater financial support.

“The Minister should take a close look at these recommendations and introduce them, rather than continuing to forge on with the current mess created by her proposed changes to the Youth Allowance system which will not reduce the disparity between city and country participation rates in higher education.”

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