Rudd continues “screw the children of the poor” policies of predecessor

The Rudd government continues the Howard government’s policy of making it ever more difficult for university students without rich parents to afford tertiary education:

It costs an estimated $20,000 to live away from home in first year, and government support is now uncertain.

The federal government wants to make it harder for students to qualify for the independent youth allowance, and is instead planning to offer poorer and regional students new scholarships worth up to $4000.

However, legislation for student support funding has stalled in the Senate, leaving students like Mr Sandiford with a gaping hole in their budgets.

We have a system that says that a student who receives nothing from their parents and lives independently is not “independent” unless they’ve earned almost $20,000 in an 18 month period, or has been married, or has worked full-time for 18 months… the test isn’t the straightforward “do you receive support from anyone else?”, it’s a collection of hoops devised on the basis of nothing more than ruling out as many young Australians as possible.

The upshot of which is a generation of students living in absolute poverty. Or being effectively prevented from going to University at all.


Stupid children of the poor thinking that they should have the same opportunity to go to university as the children of the rich! Didn’t they get the message when we introduced upfront fees?

Centrelink rules should be about fairness. Of course students who are independent of their parents should receive support not available to students who are assisted by their parents – but that should be the test. Not this profoundly unjust drivel in which poor students are forced to defer for several years and work unqualified jobs at miserable pay in order to qualify for assistance while they’re studying – those two years that they could be contributing to the community as qualified professionals are squandered trying to jump through ridiculous government hoops.

This isn’t the only unjust Centrelink rule, and I suppose – after Keating originally raised the independence age to 25 back in the 1990s – it’s not a big surprise to find an ALP government screwing over the poorest students, but it’s still a sad reminder that in terms of how we treat the poor, it doesn’t matter which major party is in power – it only gets worse.

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14 responses to “Rudd continues “screw the children of the poor” policies of predecessor

  1. They could always do what I had to do in the end: get their parents to disown them (on paper) by claiming insurmountable differences. Once you’re effectively cut off/disinherited then you’re on your own (as far as Centrelink knows), and qualify for Youth Allowance.

    But, the rort by Centrelink didn’t end there. I don’t know if they still have them, but back then they had HECS-style loans that you take out to supplement your YA — I think they were called HELP loans. Unfortunately you had to trade in 50c of your YA for every $1 loan you took out, meaning you accrued $16,000 of HELP debt for a measly $8,000 extra to live on in a year.

    Even if we used the current YA rate ($377 per f/n — I don’t know why they think a 20yo with no support has $80/fn less necessary expenses than a 21yo), thats $188/w + $30/w rent assistance + $153/w HELP = $371/w to live on: to pay rent, buy food, electricity, transport, text books, and everything else needed to live. Take out two HELP loans in a row an you’ve just accrued $32,000 of debt just to get you through two years of uni. Don’t take out the loan and you’re trying to live on $228/week!

    It’s extremely easy to burn out while trying to juggle full-time study with a part-time job to supplement your crappy YA. Even then, the harder you work, the more they cut your YA, making the whole effort futile.

  2. Northern Exposure

    I didn’t realise how bad it was until I started uni this year.

    I had to defer for a couple reasons, I was looking after my ill father for 3 years after high school, no help from the govt (would have been nice but I don’t complain), and I also stuffed up my NTCE, but we dont talk about that. I was working 3 jobs at one point, while looking after my dad who had diabetes (which we didnt know about) and osteoarthritis in his hip. I was earning just enough, and I learnt that sleep is for the weak. Unfortunately my dad took a big turn for the worse last year and died, I had to move back in with my mother and I didn’t get much of a chance to work in the last 18 months.

    I’m 5000 dollars off from independant classification, and I don’t get any help from any one else at all since moving out of my mums. I only hope I can work something out soon.

  3. “They could always do what I had to do in the end: get their parents to disown them (on paper) by claiming insurmountable differences. Once you’re effectively cut off/disinherited then you’re on your own (as far as Centrelink knows), and qualify for Youth Allowance.”

    Isn’t it good that we’re forcing the children of the poor to be disowned by their parents?

  4. Northern Exposure

    Why would I want to be associated with those dirty plebs who raised me?

  5. There’s something else to mention about the fine Liberal-Labor tradition of impoverishing the working class in the “support the system that screws you” vein of one-dimensional education policy.

    Remember the promises made in 1988 when free education was officially abolished – we will see smaller class sizes, more tutors and better services from the guilds. Safety around campuses would be improved.

    Forgive me for not noticing, but now 22 years and much public debt expansion later, do you really notice any remarkable improvement? No, to answer a rhetorical question, you probably wouldn’t.

    If anything, the Voluntary Student Unionism legislation has forced up inflation in student services from canteens to sporting facility and meeting room hires. Third party insurance has increased by a three figure sum since then as well. Rupert Murdoch’s “School Of American Studies” seems much more publicised than the courses for womens history or the decline in womens services since 1988.

    Warmest Wishes On A Great Weblog,

    Matthew Davis

    Post-script: As part of the freedom of information act a couple of years or so ago, Cabinet Documents reveal that Gough Whitlams government – even while proclaiming free education to the masses – were not so confident that the post-1988 situation would develop sooner-or-later. In fact, most could see the emphasis on foreign student profit imperatives and other market features described above!

  6. How does Rudd get the credit for this:

    However, legislation for student support funding has stalled in the Senate

    ?

  7. its like a reverse means test… if you’re already working, the government gives you more money

  8. The changes also raise the parental income at which you can still get Youth Allowance, and give students rent assistance.

    The amount students can earn before getting Youth Allowance cut is also increasing.

    The one group who are worse off are students whose parents earn too much for them to get youth allowance, who used to get around this by taking a year of uni and earning some money.

    It’s hard to say this change in policy disadvantages the poor.

  9. What Topher and Wilful said. When did it become in vogue to tout the line that the ALP is as bad as the Libs, even when reality disagrees?

  10. Wilful, he gets credit for this:

    “The federal government wants to make it harder for students to qualify for the independent youth allowance”.

    “The changes also raise the parental income at which you can still get Youth Allowance”

    Not much. The whole point is to prevent as many kids as possible from qualifying.

    “It’s hard to say this change in policy disadvantages the poor.”

    You get that poor students might have wealthier parents, right?

    “When did it become in vogue to tout the line that the ALP is as bad as the Libs, even when reality disagrees?”

    When it doesn’t.

  11. You get that poor students might have wealthier parents, right?

    You were talking about these changes making it harder for poor families to go to uni. They don’t do this at all, especially considering students can now get rent allowance, and also earn more money to help support themselves.

    Not much. The whole point is to prevent as many kids as possible from qualifying.

    I think to a degree this is true – but the changes do improve things for poorer families, if at the expense of families with a bit more money, who’s kids can now no longer take a year of, earn some money and now be eligible for Youth Allowance.

    Should students have to rely on their parents for support at uni? It might be good if all students were automatically paid a living wage for being at uni, but the money for this has to come from somewhere, and I’m not sure if our biggest priority should be supporting sons of doctors to become doctors.

  12. 30,000 students lost their entitlements, its not small potatoes. yes it affects the middle class not the dirt poor, but lefty still has an important point.

    with an estimated saving of $1.8 billion from this change, why is a “labor” government cutting support for education…and massively boosting defence spending?

  13. “…and I’m not sure if our biggest priority should be supporting sons of doctors to become doctors.”

    If it leads to more doctors in the bush it should be.

  14. Pingback: Marriage under attack « An Onymous Lefty

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