Opposition seeks changes to eligibility for Youth Allowance for inner regional students

Parliament house flag post

Opposition seeks changes to eligibility for Youth Allowance for inner regional students

Posted 29/10/2010 by Luke Buckmaster

Youth Allowance phamplet
The House of Representatives has passed by 74 votes to 70 a motion by Opposition whip Nola Marino ‘requiring’ the Government to introduce legislation that would make it easier for students in inner regional areas to qualify for independent Youth Allowance. Meanwhile, in the Senate, National Party Senator, Fiona Nash, has introduced a private members bill that seeks to introduce a measure along the same lines as that proposed in Ms Marino’s motion.

This issue has its origins in substantial changes to student assistance that the Rudd-Gillard Government introduced through the Social Security and Other Legislation Amendment (Income Support for Students) Bill 2009.

As explained in the Parliamentary Library Bills Digest, the bill sought to make a number of changes to student income support in order to increase the accessibility of higher education. These changes formed part of the government response to the Review of Higher Education conducted by Emeritus Professor Denise Bradley. The measures were wide ranging and included changes to income tests and criteria for establishing independence for Youth Allowance and AUSTUDY and expansion of the Commonwealth Scholarships program.

 The main area of contention in the bill was the change to eligibility for independent status under Youth Allowance. Under the proposed change, applicants for Youth Allowance would no longer be able to claim that they are ‘independent’ based on part-time employment or wages. The attainment of ‘independent’ status means that applicants for Youth Allowance are exempt from the parental means test that normally applies to that payment.

Under the previous work participation requirements for independence, a person was required to have:
  • worked full-time for at least 18 months in the previous two years or
  • worked part-time for at least two years since leaving school or
  • have been out of school for at least 18 months and earned at least 75 per cent of the maximum rate of pay under Wage Level A of the Australian Pay and Classification Scale in an 18 month period.
 Under the changes, the second and third of the above criteria were to be abolished, preventing many young people who previously took a ‘gap’ year between finishing high school and commencing university studies or who were employed after finishing school, from claiming to be independent and thus escape the parental income test on their payments.

This change was intended to close a loophole under which students from higher income families have been able to access Youth Allowance—an issue highlighted by the Bradley Review.

Ultimately, the Bill did not pass until an agreement was reached between the Government and the Opposition. This agreement meant that students who live away from our major cities and regional centres and have to move would be eligible under the previous independence test. This test would be restricted to those who leave home to study, whose parents earn less than $150 000 a year and who live in ‘Very Remote’, ‘Remote’ or ‘Outer Regional’ areas as defined by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (known as Australian Standard Geographical Classification (ASGC) Remoteness Structure (RA) or AGSC-RA).

 The amendments were paid for by a reduction in annual start-up scholarships to $2128 in order to keep the changes cost neutral. According to the then Minister, Julia Gillard, the changes were expected to allow an additional 1900 students access to independent Youth Allowance.

Despite the above agreement, the Opposition committed during the recent election campaign to ‘relax the eligibility criteria for the Independent Youth Allowance which will be extended to students in the Inner Regional Category’. This category includes cities such as Bathurst, Goulburn, Lismore, Wagga Wagga, Taree, Albury-Wodonga, Shepparton,  Ballarat, Bendigo, Rockhampton, Bundaberg, Bunbury, Launceston and Hobart.

The text of Ms Marino’s motion reflects the Opposition election commitment and is as follows:

 The order of the day having been read for the resumption of the debate on the motion of Ms Marino—That this House:
 (1) require the Government:
(a) urgently to introduce legislation to reinstate the former workplace participation criteria for independent youth allowance, to apply to students whose family home is located in inner regional areas as defined by the Australian Bureau of Statistics instrument Australian Standard Geographical Classification; and
(b) to appropriate funds necessary to meet the additional cost of expanding the criteria for participation, with the funds to come from the Education Investment Fund; and
(2) send a message to the Senate acquainting it of this resolution and requesting its concurrence, 9:16:47 AM.
 According to the Explanatory Memorandum, the objective of Senator Nash’s bill, the Social Security Amendment (Income Support for Regional Students) Bill 2010, is to ‘require the same eligibility criteria for Independent Youth Allowance to apply to all four ASGC-RA zones’—that is, to include Inner Regional students.

The Explanatory Memorandum suggests that the financial impact of this change is approximately $90 million per annum. Further, it says that the change is ‘to be budget neutral, with funding to be appropriated from the Education Investment Fund’.

Under Section 53 of the Constitution, the Senate cannot initiate money bills, so the question of funding will be faced in the House of Representatives if the bill proceeds.

It is unclear how many additional students would become eligible for independent Youth Allowance under the changes. In response to an Estimates Question on Notice, the Department of Employment, Education and Workplace Relations estimated that as at 24 April 2009, there were around 13 387 inner regional higher education students who live away from home in receipt of Youth Allowance.

The effect of Ms Marino’s motion is unclear. In relation to the effect of motions, House of Representatives Practice states that:

 ... the effect of such orders and resolutions of the House on others outside the House may be a limited one. 
It adds though that:

 ... this is not to say that the opinions of the House are to be disregarded, as it is incumbent upon the Executive Government and its employees and others concerned with matters on which the House has expressed an opinion to take cognisance of that opinion when contemplating or formulating any future action.
At the very least, it may be that the successful motion gives an indication of voting intentions should Senator Nash’s bill proceed to a vote in the House.

(Image sourced from: centrelink.gov.au)

Thank you for your comment. If it does not require moderation, it will appear shortly.

Add your comment

[Click to expand]

We welcome your comments, or additional information which is relevant to a post. These can be added by clicking on the ‘Add your comment’ option above. Please note that the Parliamentary Library will moderate comments, and reserves the right not to publish comments that are inconsistent with the objectives of FlagPost. This includes comments that are not relevant to the article, factually incorrect or politically partisan, as well as spam, profanity and personal abuse. We will close comments after three months.

Generate a new image
Type characters from the image:

Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Add | Email Print


Flagpost is a blog on current issues of interest to members of the Australian Parliament

Parliamentary Library Logo showing Information Analysis & Advice




Refugees asylum immigration climate change Australian foreign policy Parliament social security elections welfare reform welfare policy school education Australian Defence Force health financing indigenous Australians women Private health insurance higher education emissions trading people trafficking Middle East taxation Employment illicit drugs gambling health reform federal election 2010 Medicare disability Sport Australian Bureau of Statistics statistics United Nations Asia criminal law Afghanistan income management health forced labour Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency World Anti-Doping Agency United States federal budget Industrial Relations Carbon Pricing Mechanism politics dental health Australian Public Service constitution Australian Electoral Commission WADA transport aid child protection environment poker machines Australia in the Asian Century steroids National Disability Insurance Scheme detention aged care 43rd Parliament slavery health system OECD ASADA Law Enforcement Australian Federal Police Fair Work Act governance labour force people smuggling debt international relations New Zealand food Australian Crime Commission pharmaceutical benefits scheme International Women's Day corruption pensions public service reform children's health Aviation federal election 2013 foreign debt gross debt net debt defence capability parliamentary procedure Senate Senators and Members ALP Newstart Parenting Payment multiculturalism Youth Allowance sea farers High Court skilled migration Banking UK Parliament election results voting mental health Federal Court terrorist groups science social media Higher Education Loan Program HECS federal state relations accountability Papua New Guinea youth paid parental leave same sex relationships coal seam gas customs planning doping crime health risks Gonski Review of Funding for Schooling sex slavery Special Rapporteur Northern Territory Emergency Response social policy firearms public policy Census Population violence against women domestic violence China ADRV terrorism transparency research and development welfare ASIO intelligence community Australian Security Intelligence Organisation carbon tax mining military history electoral reform employer employee renewable energy regional unemployment fishing by-election European Union family assistance United Nations Security Council Australian economy forestry food labelling vocational education and training Drugs welfare systems Indonesia children Constitutional reform local government codes of conduct terrorist financing homelessness Parliamentary remuneration money laundering Trafficking in Persons Report energy social inclusion human rights paternalism Canada Financial sector national security fuel disability employment Tasmania integrity standards NATO Australian Secret Intelligence Service sexual abuse World Trade Organization Australia public health housing affordability bulk billing political parties water productivity health policy Governor-General US economy trade unions export liquefied natural gas foreign bribery question time speaker superannuation public housing expertise climate Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change leadership Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry regulation Pacific Islands reserved seats new psychoactive substances synthetic drugs UNODC carbon markets animal health middle class welfare Indigenous constitutional recognition of local government referendum consumer laws PISA competition policy royal commission US politics language education baby bonus Leaders of the Opposition citizen engagement policymaking Australia Greens servitude Trafficking Protocol forced marriage rural and regional alcohol entitlements ministries Hung Parliament social citizenship maritime Iran ANZUS regional students school chaplains federal budget 2011-12 salary Medicare Locals primary care Building the Education Revolution procurement Indigenous health e-voting internet voting nsw state elections 44th Parliament 2015 ABS Age Pension Death penalty capital punishment execution Bali nine Bali bombings Trade EU China soft power education Fiji India Disability Support Pension Antarctica Diplomacy by-elections state and territories Bills anti-corruption fraud bribery corporate ownership whistleblower G20 economic reform innovation Members of Parliament Scottish referendum early childhood education Middle East; national security; terrorism social services Criminal Code Amendment (Misrepresentation of Age to a Minor) Bill 2013 online grooming sexual assault of minors ACT Assembly smoking plain packaging tobacco cigarettes Asia; Japan; international relations Work Health and Safety Migration; asylum seekers; regional processing China; United States; international relations fiscal policy Racial Discrimination Act; social policy; human rights; indigenous Australians Foreign policy Southeast Asia Israel Palestine asylum refugees immigration political finance donations foreign aid Economics efficiency human rights; Racial Discrimination Act employment law bullying asylum seekers Animal law; food copyright Australian Law Reform Commission industry peace keeping contracts workplace policies same-sex marriage disorderly conduct retirement Parliament House standing orders prime ministers election timetable sitting days First speech defence budget submarines workers Somalia United Kingdom GDP world heritage political engagement leave loading Trade; tariffs; safeguards; Anti-dumping public interest disclosure whistleblowing Productivity Commission limitation period universities Ireland cancer gene patents genetic testing suspension of standing and sessional orders live exports infant mortality honorary citizen railways disciplinary tribunals standard of proof World Health Organisation arts international students skilled graduate visas temporary employment visas apologies roads Italy national heritage NHMRC nutrition anti-dumping Rent Assistance obesity evidence law sacrament of confession US presidential election international days DFAT UN General Assembly deregulation Regulation Impact Statements administrative law small business Breaker Morant regional engagement social determinants of health abortion Members suspension workplace health and safety marine reserves hearing TAFE Victoria astronomy resources sector YMCA youth parliament Korea rebate Australian Greens presidential nomination Racial Discrimination Act political parties preselection solar hot water Financial Action Taskforce Horn of Africa peacekeeping piracy Great Barrier Reef Stronger futures political financing political education Social Inclusion Board early childhood National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care Murray-Darling Basin sanctions Norway hospitals republic President Barack Obama Presidential visits qantas counselling Korean peninsula Work Choices biosecurity hendra environmental law federalism federation preselection therapeutic goods Therapeutic Goods Administration plebiscites computer games pests suicide nuclear COAG Ministerial Councils floods ADHD stimulant medication advertising electricity extradition conscience votes poverty preventative health rural health coastal erosion Parliamentary Budget Office work-life balance

Show all
Show less
Back to top