Curtin Student Guild President Chee Lai believes this year’s Federal Budget was good for students, but could have been better.
‘I’ve spoken to students and they’re generally happy with the result especially with threshold changes,’ he said.
‘But they’d like a bit more money off the cuff. We’ll have to see though as a lot of these changes will be implemented over time.’
Chee has been working with his counterparts in the National Union of Students (NUS) to improve financial support to students, after funding cuts by previous governments.
‘We’ve been working with NUS to campaign for changes, and most of the changes came through,’ he said.
‘It would have been nicer to have gotten a bit more money. The actual changes that did come through are really good especially the age of independency.’
Independency has been an issue since the Howard Government increased the age when students are eligible to claim payments from Centrelink, independent of parental income, to 25.
The recent Bradley Review into higher education suggested the age be lowered to 22, though Chee said the NUS were aiming for it to be even lower.
‘In the end it was a compromise,’ he said.
‘I’m not sure about the change to 30 hours a week. Instead of earning $18,000 in an 18 month period you have to earn more than that.’
Although the change in age wasn’t the outcome NUS wanted, Chee believed the added incentives of new relocation scholarships, removal of means testing on scholarship students, and the increase in income threshold, all helps.
‘We definitely need that. I know a lot of Commonwealth students who were in some bad situations. Overall it’s generally better especially with the income threshold changing from $236 up to $400 a fortnight.’
One issue that still needs attention according to Chee is the parental income test that was raised from $32,800 to $42,000. Although the raise was welcome, it still falls short of the mark.
‘It’s still very low. I think the key thing is that this is change from what was before. If the government wants to increase the numbers of students they’ll still need to do a lot more to support them. Especially in Perth at the moment you have rising rent and cost of living.’