Delivering financial relief for students, graduates in Macnamara

Delivering financial relief for students, graduates in Macnamara
Josh Burns

This year’s Budget brings significant relief to students across our community, and I’ve heard from many of you about how vital HECS support is.

The burden of HECS debt has been a constant worry for many, and I understand the struggle it brings.

This year, around $3 billion will be wiped from student HECS debt, providing much-needed relief to around three million Australians, including nearly 27,000 people in Macnamara.

For a student with an average HECS debt of about $26,000, this will mean a reduction of approximately $1200. Those with a HECS debt of $40,000 will see their debt cut by about $1800.

This reform will make the HECS system fairer for everyone with a HECS debt, much like our approach to tax cuts, benefitting all taxpayers.

We’ve made this possible by adjusting HECS indexation to be based on either inflation or wages, whichever is lower, and backdating this change to last year. This change reflects our commitment to easing financial pressures for students and graduates.

In my conversations with students, I’ve also heard about the challenges of unpaid practical placements. Many students are required to work for weeks without pay, often far from home, forcing them to give up part-time jobs that support their education. I know this financial strain is a barrier for students to complete their degrees.

To address this, the government is introducing the Commonwealth Prac Payment, providing $319.50 per week to around 73,000 eligible students. This is particularly crucial in fields facing skills shortages, such as teaching, nursing, midwifery, and social work.

Teachers, nurses, midwives, and social workers are the backbone of our community. They deserve the support needed to complete their education and enter these vital professions without the added stress of financial hardship. This initiative will ensure that financial barriers do not prevent students from gaining the experience they need.

I know that cost-of-living has been a major concern for many in our community. From increasing rent to the rising costs of groceries and childcare, these pressures are felt by everyone.

Our government is committed to addressing these issues head-on. HECS debt relief and the Commonwealth Prac Payment are part of a broader effort that includes tax cuts, cheaper medicines, energy bill relief and more affordable childcare.

Though there is more to be done, I’m proud of the steps we’re taking to back the hard work and aspiration of Australians looking to better themselves by studying at university or TAFE.

Education is our most powerful tool in combating disadvantage. •

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