LETTER: Regional students left worse off by government

IN A modern democracy that prides itself on a "fair go" for all, an injustice is happening for regional Australians.

Middle-income earners price themselves out of Centrelink support for their children yet lack the financial capacity to maintain them at tertiary level while still preparing themselves for retirement.

Limited funds then impact on local economies; we simply do not have the ready cash to spend in local businesses or tourism.

It would seem that everyone suffers from this inequality.

It is an injustice that the middle income earners paying the taxes are the people funding other children to study when they can't access assistance for their own.

Study is not easy. How much harder is it when balancing a part-time job against the requirements of full-time study?

I was horrified to hear that a friend's daughter went into Centrelink recently and was told that the only way she could get any financial help from the government was "to reproduce" - how undermining and counter-productive.

The goal posts have also changed recently.

Not so long ago if a student worked in full-time employment for 12 months they were entitled to a living away from home allowance.

The requirement is now 18 months full-time employment.

These students are forced to find work that generally pays poorly, is not secure and work long hours between study, university attendance and practicum placements. This places regional students at a great disadvantage to their metropolitan peers.

They lose both the financial and academic advantage of remaining at home to reduce living costs.

Middle income earners are the backbone of our economy.

We pay tax, receive little or nothing in the way of financial benefit and try to continue to fund our children beyond school as they endeavour to build a better Australia.

Is this fair? Is this right? Is this just?

I propose that students from middle income parents receive living away from home financial subsidies while studying at tertiary institutions without means testing of parental income.

Only in this way can we truly claim a fair go to all.



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