Independent Member for Indi Cathy McGowan says students in rural and regional areas are the big winners after changes to student payments passed the House of Representatives on Tuesday.
The Social Services Legislation Amendment (Simplifying Student Payments) Bill 2016 which will give all students on income support access to a Health Care Card, reduce the waiting period for the assessment of independent status, and update the geographical classification used for eligibility for the independent rate. Family farms will also no longer be counted towards the Youth Allowance Personal Test.
“I welcome the Government’s demonstration in this instance of a commitment to young people in rural and regional Australia,” Ms McGowan said.
“This change recognises that regional and remote students face additional costs in pursuing tertiary education and have much lower participation rates in higher education than students from major cities,” Ms McGowan said.
“Particular thanks go to Senator Bridget McKenzie.
“In 2015 Senator McKenzie hosted a series of Regional Higher Education Forums across the country including Wangaratta. The forums were an opportunity to discuss the barriers to higher education for regional and remote students and how to overcome them.
“This is a demonstration of the importance of proper consultation with rural and regional Australians. Good process leads to good legislation for everyone.”
Ms McGowan said the Bill would have an enormous impact on the ability of rural students to access higher education and stay the distance.