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April 1, 2011

Gippsland students, parents and teachers have an opportunity to tell the Gillard Labor Government how changes to youth allowance have affected regional areas.

Federal Member for Gippsland Darren Chester is urging local residents to join the fight for a better deal for regional students and make a submission to highlight the need for an improved system of student income support.

Mr Chester said the review of the system was taking place 12 months earlier than the Gillard Government had planned due to pressure applied by the Coalition.

Mr Chester last week told Parliament that regional Australians would prefer action, rather than a review process.

“Students across Australia and their parents and teachers want us to fix this mess,” Mr Chester told Parliament.

“The issue of independent youth allowance is where the government has failed miserably and caused enormous confusion and enormous uncertainty. I would probably be getting 10 calls a week in my office from parents in the inner regional area who are trying to find a way for their child to access youth allowance.

“The pathetic solution that is being put forward now is to bring forward an inquiry and make it report a bit earlier, by July 1 this year.

“The Prime Minister needs to end the hollow rhetoric about an education revolution and start cleaning up the mess that exists in student income support.”

Mr Chester said rather than tinkering around with the system as a result of the review, the complete student income support system should be overhauled.

“The real holding pattern from July 1 this year should be to abolish the current arrangements of inner regional and outer regional and give all regional students the same access to independent youth allowance,” Mr Chester said.

“That should be the holding pattern until this review is completed. Then the review  should completely overhaul the system of student income support.”

Mr Chester urged local students, families and teachers to get involved in the review process and force the Gillard Government to make changes to benefit regional students.

“The only way they are going to listen is with people pressure. Once this Prime Minister realises she has a political problem, she will take action. That is the only way this government listens to the people of Australia,” Mr Chester said.

“We must continue to highlight this issue in the interests of fairness and the interests of equity for regional Australian students.”

Submissions should make direct reference to the Key Questions which can be found with further information on the review online at:

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