Changes to Youth Allowance for regional students

In September some changes to Youth Allowance were announced which you should definitely be aware of if you’re a rural student planning on going to uni in the next year or two. Youth Allowance is funding you can receive from the government to assist you while you’re young and studying or looking for work. What that has meant is that if you had to move out of home for uni, or couldn’t work a forty hour week at the same time as studying Medicine, you’d have enough money to make sure you had a roof over your head and a steady diet of Mi Goreng and apples. For a while the steps to getting Youth Allowance were pretty straightforward, but in the last couple of years they’ve gotten bafflingly complex, particularly if you’re from a rural area.

In 2010 the government began to make a distinction between students from ‘inner regional’, ‘outer regional’ and ‘remote’ areas. That meant that if you were from a remote or outer regional area you were able to access Youth Allowance working fewer hours per week, while as if you were from an inner regional area you’d find it harder to access Youth Allowance due to different work requirements. This was regardless of the fact that it isn’t always easy to come by work in regional towns during a recession, ‘inner’ or ‘outer,’ and these students often had to meet the same relocation costs as their outer regional counterparts with less financial assistance. This didn’t do any favours for students living in rural areas: university enrolments from regional areas have been getting progressively worse.

But the government has changed their minds. From now on students from ‘inner’, ‘outer’ and ‘remote’ regional areas will have equal access to youth allowance. In addition, there will be increased scholarships for students from regional areas wanting to go to uni. Hopefully this will see university enrolments from regional areas begin to rise, because uni is hard enough, but in past years it’s been a whole lot harder if you weren’t from the city.

-Madeleine