Coalition delivers increased educational opportunities for regional and remote students

Joint Media Release with:

THE HON BARNABY JOYCE
Deputy Prime Minister
Federal Member for New England

Young people from regional and remote areas of Australia will benefit from the Coalition Government’s reforms to Youth Allowance, improving access to education for students living outside the major cities.

Parliament has passed legislation to honour a 2016 election pledge to make it easier for remote and regional students to be considered independent for student payments.

Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce, and Minister for Social Services, Christian Porter, said that from 1 January 2018, the period in which a regional or remote student has to earn the minimum amount to qualify as independent for Youth Allowance (student) or ABSTUDY Living Allowance will be reduced from 18 to 14 months.

“This means a student who completed year 12 last year, in 2016, can earn the current amount of $24,042 before the tertiary year in 2018 commences and meet the workforce independence criteria for Youth Allowance (student) and ABSTUDY Living Allowance in 2018,” Minister Porter said.

“Young people who are considered independent for these payments generally receive a higher rate because it is not affected by their parents’ income.”

Mr Joyce said that about 3,700 regional and remote students across Australia are expected to benefit from this change to Youth Allowance.

“Many students take a gap year after Year 12 and under this reform, regional and remote students will be able to use that single gap year to become independent for student payments without having to delay going to university,” Mr Joyce said. “Previously they had to wait 18 months to be considered independent, which often meant they were away from school for two full years.

“This is important because reducing the period to fit within the usual gap year, which many students choose to take after they finish Year 12, means that more students are more likely to continue their education and take those skills back to their communities.

“The longer a student isn’t engaged in further study after school, the less likely it is that they will re-engage. This is especially true for regional and rural students, for whom that extra year off from study may mean the transition back becomes too daunting.”

The Coalition Government strongly supports students in regional and remote Australia, having this year already increased the Assistance for Isolated Children (AIC) Additional Boarding Allowance and the means-tested component of ABSTUDY Group 2 School Fees Allowance from $1,533 to $2,322 per year.

“The AIC scheme helps families of students who do not have reasonable daily access to an appropriate state school because of geographical isolation, disability or special health needs,” Mr Joyce.

“The Additional Boarding Allowance, a means-tested supplementary payment, provides extra support for lower-income families with a secondary student who boards away from home,” Minister Porter said.

“This is in addition to a non-means tested Basic Boarding Allowance of $8,095 per year to contribute to the costs of boarding a student away from home.”

For more information on student payments, go to https://www.humanservices.gov.au/students