Bury the Bill: Stop Government changes to HELP debts

Bury the Bill: Stop Government changes to HELP debts

The Government has proposed changes to Commonwealth student loans which will make education more unattainable for many Australians.

When you take out a student loan, you only need to pay back the cost of your education once you are earning a decent income. The proposed changes will lower the income repayment threshold, so graduates will need to start paying when they are barely earning minimum wage.

The proposed changes also implement a cap on borrowing for Commonwealth supported places. Typically, this will affect students who are studying a Commonwealth supported undergraduate degree followed by a full-fee paying professional postgraduate degree. For example, a student doing a Bachelor of Arts followed by a Juris Doctor at the University of Melbourne would have to come up with $40,000 upfront- more if they ever changed course or failed a unit.

These changes go against the spirit of the HECS-HELP system, which is supposed to facilitate access to education for all who are capable and motivated. If the proposed changes are legislated, low-income Australians will experience shrinking opportunities to go to university.

The Government has introduced this amendment just months after announcing the pre-Christmas university funding freeze, which reduced the amount of available university places. The funding freeze represents over two billion dollars of savings to the Government; but now they are trying to bleed students and lower-income graduates to create the appearance of short-term savings.

So, what can you do about it?

At some point in the coming weeks, the amendment be voted upon by the Australian Senate. We have prepared some materials to help you communicate your views with senators, so that they are aware of the impact this amendment has on opportunities of Australians.

Firstly, there is a petition. The petition may be accessed by clicking here.

Each time someone signs the petition, the relevant senators are notified. Putting your name and signature to the petition shows the senators that this is an important issue to you.

Secondly, we have created form letters to senators. Click here to download the letter. You will need to fill in the senator’s name. Please fill out your name and university before you send off the letter, so the senator knows who it is from. You may also wish to change the letter to be more relevant to you, or you may even want to write your own letter. You can send your letter by post or by email- see the contact details for each senator below.

Only have time for a soundbite? Tweet at the senators. Our suggested tweet is: “@Stirling_G @Senator_Patrick @storertim @fraser_anning @Senator_Steve : please oppose changes to student loans that target poor and young Australians! #BuryTheBill

For those with a little more time on their hands, please consider calling the senators to register your views on the student loan changes. You may wish to refer to the template letter for talking points.


Contact details for cross-bench senators (not including the Greens senators):

Name State  Email address Phone number Mailing address Twitter handle
Stirling Griff SA  senator.griff@aph.gov.au (08) 8212 1409 PO Box 8117, Adelaide SA 5000 @Stirling_G
Rex Patrick SA  senator.patrick@aph.gov.au (08) 8232 1144 Level 2, 31 Ebenezer Place, Adelaide SA 5000 @Senator_Patrick
Brian Burston NSW  senator.burston@aph.gov.au (02) 4959 1044 Suite 1-03, Level 1 Alec Rice Centre 43-43A The Boulevarde, Toronto NSW 2283 @SenatorBurston
Peter Georgiou WA  senator.georgiou@aph.gov.au (08) 9226 1750 PO Box 6, West Perth WA 6872 @SenatorGeorgiou
Pauline Hanson QLD  senator.hanson@aph.gov.au (07) 3221 7644 GPO Box 228, Brisbane QLD 4001 @PaulineHansonOz
Derryn Hinch VIC  senator.hinch@aph.gov.au (03) 9820 2222 PO Box 33241, Melbourne VIC 3004 @HumanHeadline
David Leyonhjelm NSW  senator.leyonhjelm @aph.gov.au (02) 9719 1078 PO Box 636, Drummoyne NSW 1470 @DavidLeyonhjelm
Cory Bernardi SA  senator.bernardi@aph.gov.au (08) 8362 8600 PO Box 2192, Kent Town SA 5071 @corybernardi
Fraser Anning QLD senator.anning@aph.gov.au (07) 3221 9099 GPO Box 228, Brisbane Qld 4001 @fraser_anning
Steve Martin TAS  senator.martin@aph.gov.au (02) 6277 3808 Level 1, 21 Best Street
Devonport, TAS, 7210
Timothy Storer SA  senator.storer@aph.gov.au (08) 8232 0220 187 Grenfell Street, Adelaide SA 5000 @storertim