The Nationals have been relentless in demanding the government make changes to independent youth allowance.
Senator Bridget McKenzie recognises that the government has “finally done the right thing by treating regional students the same, regardless of where they live.”
As a result of the pressure from The Nationals, the government has announced changes allowing students from Bendigo and across Central Victoria to benefit from an expansion of access to independent youth allowance to incorporate ‘inner’ regional towns and cities.
As part of a $265m package, from 1 January 2012 students from Avoca, Maldon and Elmore will be able to access independent youth allowance under the same rules that apply to students from Wedderburn, Mitiamo and Pyramid Hill.
Senator McKenzie said “I have been very concerned about the impact of the government’s restrictive youth allowance rules on Central Victorian students.
“Many local families have struggled enormously with the costs of tertiary studies. A level playing field is vitally important to promoting educational access, so that regional students who are forced to relocate to undertake further study receive some support.
“The government should never have changed the rules for inner regional students in the first place.”
Senator McKenzie described The Nationals plan to support regional students as a better way forward.
“The Nationals recognise the fact that students from regional areas forced to move away from home face significant additional costs.
“Our plan for a Tertiary Access Allowance addresses the issue of inequity. The Nationals want regional students to have the option to go on to tertiary studies and come back to our communities and fill the skill shortages that exist in areas such as engineering and health.”