Students may finally get fair go

There is renewed hope that Independent Youth Allowance criteria may soon be made fairer, something Federal Member for Riverina Michael McCormack has been calling for since being elected last August.

Independent Senator Nick Xenophon is now backing a Bill by Nationals' Senator Fiona Nash to reinstate the original and fairer eligibility criteria.

The changes to the criteria, put in place when Prime Minister Julia Gillard was Education Minister, mean that thousands of students from inner regional areas cannot access Independent Youth Allowance under the single gap year arrangements.

Students affected include those from Wagga Wagga, Junee, Tumut, Gundagai, Tumbarumba, Coolamon, Batlow and Adelong.

"Regional students should not be disadvantaged or discriminated against simply because of where they come from," Mr McCormack said.

"Everyone is entitled to better their education but under the arrangements imposed by Ms Gillard, country students were being forced to work for 30 hours a week over 18 months out of a two-year period to qualify.

"I am pleased this worthwhile Bill is now receiving the support it requires and hopefully Parliament can, for the sake of regional students and their families, put the Youth Allowance situation right when it resumes in February."

Cristy Houghton