A taskforce set up to administer a $20 million Rural Tertiary Hardship Fund in the wake of the Federal Government’s bungled Youth Allowance changes will have only three months to decide how it will be distributed before it’s due to begin.
Country Liberals Senator for the Northern Territory Nigel Scullion said Territory families probably weren’t even aware of the fund, scheduled to begin in January 2011, let alone how they could prove their eligibility.
“Even if the taskforce is able to set up the fund in time, it’s my view that $20 million will be completely inadequate when you consider the number of regional students who have missed out under the changes, and the fact it costs around $20,000 each year to support a child living away from home,” Senator Scullion said.
“And there’s still the issue of retrospectivity. Because of the delayed passage of the legislation, the problem was transferred from the 2009 gap year students to this year’s gap year students, who had to make a decision about their future while the Coalition tried to negotiate with the Government.
“It is the height of hypocrisy to say that you support regional Australia, then make it harder for regional students to access Youth Allowance, and then set up a fund as an after thought which nobody knows about.
“We have a long way to go to fix the Government’s bungled legislation and provide a fairer deal for regional students. The Coalition will continue to fight for a complete review.
“I am facilitating an information session with Centrelink as many people have contacted me unsure about how the changes affect them. I encourage people to contact my office to find out more.”
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Labor treats regional students with contempt 29.10.10.pdf