THE Nationals will push in the coming weeks to convince their Liberal Party colleagues to fall in line with their policy to abolish the existing youth allowance scheme that means tests the income of parents, according to Coalition regional education spokesperson Fiona Nash.
Ms Nash said the youth allowance threshold of $150,000 combined parental income was unrealistic for students wanting to study at a tertiary institution.
“If you have a father who is a policeman and mother who is a teacher then you are typical of the young people who miss out on the payment under the current arrangement,” she said.
“This is why I think there should be no threshold at all.”
Ms Nash has advocated changes, including the dispensing of the $150,000 parental income test and up to 18 months working after leaving school to stop young people living in regional areas who can’t afford to go to university from falling through the cracks.
Ms Nash said she had had contact from several young people affected by the joint income parental threshold.
“They have gone out to work for a gap year after school in the belief they will be eligible for a youth payment and then find they don’t meet the criteria.
“They are devastated,” she said.
Under the current youth allowance arrangements students on a gap year for 12 months have to earn $21,000 to prove they’re independent of their parents to be eligible for youth allowance. They may extend the time to 18 months.
Ms Nash wants to abolish the gap year criteria.
“I would like to see a distance criteria of at least 90 minutes by public transport introduced and this of course would mean in Orange, for example, a student who lives in Orange and wants to study at the Charles Sturt University campus here would not be eligible for the allowance,” she said.
Ms Nash said with an election looming later in the year she had to work to convince members of the Coalition the independent youth allowance threshold was preventing some young people in regional areas from going to university.
“My colleagues who are in regional areas get it, but there are others in the Liberal Party I don’t think understand the challenges facing some young people,” she said.