Centrelink not just broken, but unfair

Friday January 20, 2017

The Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) is calling for student income support to be extended to all domestic postgraduate students and the scrapping of the automated debt recovery system.

In the 2017­18 CAPA Pre­Budget Submission we have requested that income support be extended to all postgraduate students through Youth Allowance and Austudy. This includes all postgraduate coursework students as well as all research students not covered by a scholarship.

In 2014 the Abbott Government decided to scrap the proposed extension of income support through youth allowance and Austudy to all postgraduate coursework students that was recommended in the Bradley review[1].

According to the Universities Australia 2012 report on student finances, 25% of postgraduate coursework students go without meals and essentials on a daily basis due to financial issues[2].

“The Federal Government needs to fix the system and make income support available to all students” said CAPA National President Peter Derbyshire.

“More and more students are funding their own research and some are not even eligible for income support. These are students on the forefront of research or the future professionals of Australia yet those that have a low socio­economic standing are locked out.”

CAPA also stands with the National Union of Students (NUS) in their call for the scrapping of the Centrelink Automated Debt Recovery System that is plaguing those that need the most support.

“The entirety of Centrelink needs an overhaul starting with extending income support to all students regardless of course and ending the debacle of the automated debt recovery system.” said Mr Derbyshire.

For comment: Peter Derbyshire CAPA National President M: 0435 047 817


[1] Denise Bradley, Peter Noonan, Helen Nugent, & Bill Scales (2008) “Review of the Australian Higher Education: Final Report [Bradley review]” Prepared for The Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. Retrieved From http://www.voced.edu.au/content/ngv32134

[2] Universities Australia, (2013) “Australian University Student Finances In 2012” Retrieved from https://www. universitiesaustralia.edu.au/news/commissioned­studies/Australian­University­Student­Finances­in­ 2012#.WICe11yo3Ms

Attachment: Draft-2016-National-Roadmap-submission-CAPA

The national research infrastructure roadmap is clear in its outline as to what is needed for the future of Australian research. The areas of focus are clear as is the outline of what is available as well as what is needed will provide a focus for future investment. There are however some concerns that the Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations have particularly in areas that are missing in the roadmap that will be essential. Without a plan for continued research investment that can outlast changing governments or a plan to ensure continued skills training and career development the roadmap is only a wish list and Australia’s research infrastructure will suffer the same issues that it currently does.

Attachment: 2017 CAPA Pre Budget Submission

The Federal Government now recognises the challenges of the changing economy and the importance of innovation and research in this new economy. While changing legislation and encouraging industry investment is one way of stimulating an ideas boom the most effective measure is through the use of budgetary tools. Postgraduate students lay at the forefront of the innovation economy whether they are research students tackling the questions of today and tomorrow or coursework students that will become the professionals of the future.

Past budgetary cuts to programs such as the Research Training Scheme as well as commonwealth support for student placements have left universities to bare the bulk cost of research training. This has directly affected the ability for universities to train the researchers and innovators of the future and has left Australia lagging. Previous plans to increase income support to coursework postgraduate students have also been shelved threatening completion rates as well as limiting postgraduate degree participation. While investment in postgraduate education may seem to provide few short term benefits the long term benefits of increasing support and funding to Australia’s economy are quite clear.