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Media Release by The Hon Larry Anthony MP

Youth Allowance supporting more young Australians

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Larry Anthony, today said the Coalition Government had fulfilled its promise to better support young Australians through Youth Allowance.

Mr Anthony was responding to claims made in the National Welfare Rights’ Network report Runaway youth debt – no allowance for youth.

“The report considers Youth Allowance customers to have incurred a debt if they are in receipt of a $500 advance payment. This advance is extended to customers who have not had an advance payment in the last 12 months, are not repaying a previous advance payment and are able to repay the advance without suffering financial hardship.

“This advance is particularly handy for Youth Allowance customers for a large one-off expenditure such as the purchasing of text books at the commencement of the academic year. Is Welfare Rights advocating the removal of this advance to Youth Allowance recipients?

“The report also identifies Youth Allowance recipients who have incurred a debt if they fail to notify Centrelink of a change in their circumstances. This requirement is clearly stated on their claim forms and is reinforced at introductory seminars, which all new recipients are encouraged to attend.

“Youth Allowance recipients may also have their payment reduced if they fail to meet their activity test requirements. For students, this means attending full time study and for those unemployed, this means fulfilling their mutual obligation requirements.

“The Coalition Government firmly believes that those in receipt of Youth Allowance should be committed to full time study, looking for employment or participating in activities to become job-ready.

“Like all Centrelink customers, Youth Allowance recipients need to exercise personal responsibility and ensure they receive their correct entitlement. It is also important to note that there are safeguards in the system to protect the most vulnerable.

“An evaluation by the Department of Family and Community Services and an independent NATSEM report found that young people are better off under Youth Allowance than under Labor’s AUSTUDY program.

“They also have access to other benefits unavailable to other allowance recipients such as a higher income free area of $236 per fortnight and access to the Student Income Bank of up to $6,000. The Coalition Government also extended access to Rent Assistance to Youth Allowance recipients which can mean an extra $92 per fortnight (maximum rate).

“Youth Allowance has been another success story of the Coalition Government. The payment has allowed more young people to participate in study and training and is helping them further their futures,” Mr Anthony said.