MEDIA STATEMENT

Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic) commends the Federal Government for extending the $550 temporary Coronavirus Supplement to the 250,000 students and apprentices on Youth Allowance (Student), Austudy and ABSTUDY.

However, many students who do not receive Youth Allowance (Student), Austudy and ABSTUDY due to ineligibility based on the parental income means test, but who live independently and support themselves, are now in a dire situation having lost their jobs due to COVID-19 disruption. These young people like 21-year-old Eleanor Whelan-Mills who moved from regional Victoria to Melbourne to study, are being left out of much-needed government support, and becoming desperate.

YACVic is calling on the Federal Government to raise the parental income test threshold for Youth Allowance (Student), Austudy and ABSTUDY, in the same way the partner income threshold has been increased for Jobseeker benefits.

Case study: Eleanor

“My job has cut my hours from Monday next week, so I will be unable to pay any rent or pay any bills. And it looks like I will have to move home indefinitely.

“I moved to Melbourne from Bendigo three years ago to pursue studying a Bachelor of Arts/Law at Monash University. Despite having supported myself fully for the past three years without any Government assistance, I am not considered independent because of my parents’ income, and hence am ineligible for Youth Allowance (Student).

“My parents are only marginally over the threshold and cannot afford to support me, especially during the current financial climate when my mother is facing the possibility of being laid off due to the effects of COVID-19.

“I am applying for Centrelink but know full well that I will be rejected, leaving me to face eviction from my share-house. I am really scared – so many of my friends are in a similar position, and we have no idea what our options are.

 “I feel left behind, and want the Government to ensure no young person misses out on support because of the economic challenges from COVID-19.”

Youth advocacy groups “inundated” with calls and messages by young people trying to get by

YACVic has been inundated with stories like Eleanor’s.

“Many students have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 shock to the economy, and are now unable to pay for rent and basic essentials,” says Katherine Ellis, CEO of Youth Affairs Council Victoria.

“Students like Eleanor, who have moved from rural and regional areas, or for other reasons must live independently of their parents, are in desperate need of support now.

“We are calling on the Federal Government to increase the parental income test threshold for Youth Allowance (Student), in the same way they have lifted the partner income threshold for Jobseeker benefit eligibility.

“In these extraordinarily difficult times, we have a duty of care to ensure every young person is properly supported to afford rent, pay for essentials and access the services they need, without being forced to give up or reduce their studies.”

Media contact:

Thomas Feng, YACVic Media and Communications Manager, 0431 285 275. Katherine Ellis, YACVic CEO is available for further comment.

Eleanor is also available for additional interviews.

About Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic)

Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic) is the peak body and leading advocate for young people aged 12–25 and the youth sector in Victoria. Established in 1960, YACVic advocates for the rights of young people in Victoria to ensure they are active, visible and valued in their communities.