Thanks for the HELP

Advocates say the Federal Budget doesn’t go far enough to help ease cost-of-living pressures for young Australians.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers announced Australia is set to receive a $4 billion surplus and a suite of investments into social infrastructure.

Young people will receive a $40 increase to Job Seeker and Youth Allowance payments. Photo: Orla Latawski.

National Union of Students (NUS) WA President Dylan Botica says there were some beneficial inclusions, but overall young Australians are still trailing behind.

“Young people have experienced a budget that is less than ideal and will still leave a lot of students living in poverty,” he says.

“The government’s own economic inclusion advisory committee recommended there should be a substantial increase to support payments, but Labor’s budget has only committed to raising Youth Allowance by just $2.80 a day, which is quite an insulting lack of an increase.

“There’s a lot of issues that the federal government has made the decision not to fix like the age of independence.”

NUS WA President Dylan Botica says young people need more support in the budget. Photo: Orla Latawski.

The age of independence in Australia is 22 which means people younger than this are unable to access JobSeeker payments.

Dylan Botica says these restrictions on eligibility unfairly disadvantage young people.

“Changing the age of independence and raising the rate to something that students can live on, that’s what would make the biggest difference,” he says.

“We acknowledge that there are things [in the budget] that will make an improvement but it’s quite mediocre in the in the grand scheme of things.”

Key aspects of the budget included increases to the Commonwealth Rent Assistance, greater incentives for GPs to bulk bill and investment into free-free TAFE places in each state.

The Federal Budget includes increased incentives for GPs to bulk bill. Photo: Orla Latawski.

A spokesperson for the Western Australian Council of Social Service (WACOSS) says the budget doesn’t consider young people in great detail.

“We haven’t seen a whole lot directly targeted towards young people and that’s disappointing to say the least,” they say.

“It’s not really enough to meaningfully impact people who are struggling.”

WACOSS say the fortnightly payments are welcomed but will make minimal difference in light of rising HECS debts.

“Students on Youth Allowance and Austudy are going to see an increase of seven per cent or more to HECS debts this year and they’re rightly worried about those.

“The indexation to HECS and HELP this year will see tertiary students lumped with a massive extra debt that the government could have done something about.”

Dylan Botica from the National Union of Students says there are multiple pressures on younger Australians.
Audio:Orla Latawski.

The WA state budget is due to be released tomorrow and Dylan Botica hopes it will build on commitments made by the Federal government.

“We’ve seen [in the federal budget] that there’s an additional 300,000 fee-free TAFE courses which means that more young people are given the chance to access education without going into debt,” he says.

“We’d really like to see a continuation to the expansion of things like fee free TAFE.

“There’s a lot of things that the state government can do for young people and students.”

WACOSS hopes the budget will bring support for vulnerable Western Australians.

“We would like to see more in the state budget tomorrow for people who are doing toughest and that includes young people,” they say.