Cathy McGowan: Member for Indi

A region where our young people can work, learn and develop skills to lead rewarding, fulfilling lives and careers.

Regional young people: Training and Education

A region where our young people can work, learn and develop skills to lead rewarding, fulfilling lives and careers.

We need to make it easier to study and train locally, and support people to move to Indi for work.

For many families in Indi, the upfront costs of education - such as rent, paying a bond on a house, textbooks and university fees - are a burden, especially if the young person chooses to study in the city and needs to move out of home. These cost barriers are part of the reason why young people from Indi are under-represented in tertiary education. Just 17% of 25-34 year olds in Indi have a tertiary qualification. That is compared to almost 40% for the same age group in Melbourne.

Continued support for TAFE and other vocational training is vitally important to our region. People in Indi should have access to quality local education and skills training.

If elected, Cathy will:

  • Encourage the expansion of HECS-type loans for living expenses, to be paid back when income reaches a certain threshold. Start-up scholarships have recently been used to do this but are limited to $2050 a year. These should be increased.
  • Lobby to make youth allowance more accessible for rural students. We need to address both the rate and criteria for getting youth allowance for this specific group. Many rural students seek to go on the higher ‘independent’ rate of youth allowance which reflects the higher costs they pay when they relocate to study. To do this, they must earn around $21,600 in 18 months to prove they are independent from their parents. But unlike metropolitan youth, their parents’ income is included in an asset test. Full-time students under 22 can go on the ‘dependent’ rate of youth allowance. This is $204 a week. For students who are living in big cities, this is often not enough to pay rent and bills.
  • Put the national transport concession card back on the agenda. For too long, our students have to pay full fares when travelling in a different state to where they study. Concession prices are offered on an inconsistent basis. For example a Federal government health care card card attracts discounted prices on the Melbourne- Sydney XPT train if you disembark in Wodonga, but not if you get off in Albury. A NSW student card does not attract concession prices on Victorian transport.
  • Support TAFES and apprenticeship providers. We need a range of pathways into training and skill development. Too often young people take up training and skill development they are not interested in as they are unaware of possible alternatives. Cathy will support the expansion of trade training centres for young people in schools and will work in the region to develop strong post-school pathway support to ensure that young people pursuing a trade or tafe training find the best career for their skills and interests.
  • Support the establishment and development of university campuses in Indi. Young people often want to stay in our region but have to move to a city to study their course. Cathy will support and continue to develop ‘stepping stone’ initiatives such as the University of Melbourne’s new Diploma of General Studies which is being developed in collaboration with Wodonga TAFE and Goulburn Ovens Institute of TAFE, and is offered in rural towns of Shepparton, Dookie, Albury, Wangaratta and Benalla. Cathy will work with Australian universities to create stronger course options and beneficial partnerships in tertiary education that will give young people in our region real choice when it comes to studying locally.
  • Support the Better Schools legislation to bring education funding up to a national standard.

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