A REPORT prepared for the Baw Baw Latrobe Local Learning and Employment Network shows Baw Baw students and young job seekers will be worse off under the Abbott Government’s first budget.
Above: Baw Baw Latrobe LLEN CEO Mick Murphy. Photo by article author.
This article was first published in the 15 August 2014 edition of the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen.
The report states that the planned cut to higher education course subsidisation by the federal government, plus the “compounding effects of changes in household incomes, coupled with issues of distance and rurality, will further increase barriers to participation and attainment.”
Changes to the Newstart support payment could affect thousands of young people in Baw Baw and the Latrobe Valley.
“There is (in the budget) an increase in eligibility age for Newstart from 22 to 24, forcing young people to remain on the lower Youth Allowance,” the report states.
“This will potentially affect an additional 1,358 young people between the ages of 22 and 24 in the Baw Baw Shire, and 2,912 young people in Latrobe City.
Baw Baw Latrobe LLEN CEO Mick Murphy told the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen he was concerned income support changes would have a particularly bad impact on youth in a difficult jobs climate.
“I’m concerned about the potential changes, although they haven’t got though the Senate yet and there’s a lot of debate on whether they will or not,” he said.
“Certainly the changes to income support to young people, particularly if they haven’t got employment, concerns me.
“They may end up without income for six months. I don’t know many people in that situation who can last six minutes, let alone six months without some degree of support in terms of survival.
“It’s almost blaming a younger person for being unemployed, even though in many cases there’s not the option to be employed.
That is there’s not opportunities available, particularly in regional areas.
“More often than not there’s not [many jobs] to apply for, particularly if you are under-qualified, and for younger people the cost of becoming qualified is increasing as well.”
Mr Murphy said regional youth seeking higher education faced greater financial pressure than their Melbourne-based classmates.
“We’ve been doing a lot of work over the last several years on the impact of the cost of participating in higher ed, not the cost of education itself because that’s [covered by a] HECS debt, but the cost of having to relocate associated with going to a university outside the area,” he said.
“And our deferral rate, those young people who defer their offer, is much greater than metropolitan areas.
“Our data suggests about a third of the kids don’t end up taking that offer, but it equally suggests that those who do take it up from regional areas are in many cases just as successful, in many cases more successful, than metropolitan students.
“So it’s not as if they’re not capable, it’s just the cost of doing it.
“So now the potential additional barrier of a higher HECS debt will turn people off. ‘Why would I bother? It costs me too much and I can’t afford it while I’m doing it, and then I have to pay it back.'”
Mr Murphy said young people who pursue higher eduction may have to move to Melbourne for better salaries to pay their debts.
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