03/04/2017

Improved access to education for regional and remote students

Federal Member for Wide Bay Llew O’Brien today said regional, rural and remote students will have better access to education opportunities through new Coalition Government initiatives.

The latest reforms represent a key element of the Coalition Government’s regional education package to support students outside the major cities.

Legislation has passed the Parliament cutting the waiting periods for Youth Allowance (student) or ABSTUDY Living Allowance.  From January 2018, regional and remote students will only need to earn the minimum amount required to satisfy the workforce independence provisions within 14 months, instead of 18 months.

Mr O’Brien said this means that students who finished Year 12 last year can take advantage of the 14 months period before commencing tertiary studies in 2018 to earn $24,042 (current rate) and be considered independent for Youth Allowance or ABSTUDY Living Allowance.

“Being considered independent is important as it can mean a higher rate of payment. Unlike dependent recipients of Youth Allowance or ABSTUDY Living Allowance, the independent rate is not reduced based on parental income,” Mr O’Brien said.   

“This helps young people to take up opportunities to extend their education after finishing high school and helps to ease the financial burden on families.”

About 3,700 regional and remote students across Australia are expected to benefit from this change.  Other changes under the Coalition’s regional education package commenced at the start of 2017 and are already helping school students with a 50 per cent boost to the Assistance for Isolated Children Additional Boarding Allowance and the means-tested component of ABSTUDY Group 2 School Fees Allowance.

From the start of this year, 2017, the Assistance for Isolated Children (AIC) Additional Boarding Allowance increased by 50 per cent.  The increase also applies to the means-tested component of ABSTUDY Group 2 School Fees Allowance (SFA).

This helps lower income families to overcome the geographic isolation which can be a barrier to providing educational opportunities for their children.

The maximum annual amount of Additional Boarding Allowance and the means-tested component of ABSTUDY Group 2 SFA has increased from $1,533 to $2,322. The income limit at which the payment cuts out has also increased to $63,481pa.

About 1,300 people across Australia will benefit from the increase to the Additional Boarding Allowance and 3,000 people will benefit from the increased ABSTUDY Group 2 SFA.

The Additional Boarding Allowance is a means-tested supplementary payment to provide extra support for lower-income families with a secondary student who boards away from home.  This is in addition to a non-means tested Basic Boarding Allowance to contribute to the costs of boarding a student away from home.

For more information on these changes, visit: https://www.humanservices.gov.au/students