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Member for O’Connor Rick Wilson MP says regional students will benefit from better access to regional education from January 1, as the Federal Government starts rolling out its $93.4 million regional education election commitment in 2017.

From 1 January 2018, subject to the passage of legislation, the required period for regional and remote area students to earn the nominated sum  to satisfy the workforce independence provisions for Youth Allowance and ABSTUDY Living Allowance will be reduced from 18 months to 14 months.

Mr Wilson said the reforms meant some O’Connor students finishing Year 12 this year would be able to take advantage of the 14 months period to earn $24,042 and be considered independent for Youth Allowance or ABSTUDY Living Allowance.

“Importantly, young people who are considered independent may receive a higher rate of payment because, unlike dependent recipients of Youth Allowance or ABSTUDY Living Allowance, their rate is not reduced based on parental income,” Mr Wilson said.

“Students will be able to prove independence within a year of leaving school, meaning they can access Youth Allowance and ABSTUDY while retaining their place at university.

“Breaking down the barriers that make it more difficult for regional students to attend university has been a long-term priority for me so it’s very satisfying to see these requirements amended.”

About 3,700 regional and remote students across Australia are expected to benefit from this change.

Regional and remote students will also be supported through a 50 per cent increase to the Assistance for Isolated Children Additional Boarding Allowance and the means-tested component of ABSTUDY Group 2 School Fees Allowance.

“From 1 January 2017, the Assistance for Isolated Children (AIC) Additional Boarding Allowance will increase by 50 per cent,” Mr Wilson said.

“Rural families have been pushing for changes to the additional boarding allowance and the Government is committed to delivering these reforms.

“The increase will also apply to the means-tested component of ABSTUDY Group 2 School Fees Allowance (SFA).

“This means lower income families in O’Connor who are geographically isolated will receive additional assistance to improve access to educational opportunities.”

The maximum annual amount of Additional Boarding Allowance and the means-tested component of ABSTUDY Group 2 SFA will increase from $1,533 to $2,322. It will also increase the income limit at which the payment cuts out to $63,481pa.

About 1,300 people across Australia will benefit from the increase to the Additional Boarding Allowance and 3,000 people will benefit from the increased ABSTUDY Group 2 SFA.

The Additional Boarding Allowance is a means-tested supplementary payment to provide extra support for lower-income families with a secondary student who boards away from home.  This is in addition to a non-means tested Basic Boarding Allowance to contribute to the costs of boarding a student away from home.

For more information on these changes visit: https://www.humanservices.gov.au/

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MEET RICK

I was inspired to run for Parliament following my involvement in a decade-long campaign to deregulate the wheat industry, which brought about the end of the Australia Wheat Board’s monopoly.

“I stand proudly for the Liberal philosophy of free markets, vigorous competition, small government and individual responsibility. These are the principles that guide me in my life and in this place. My track record in public life shows clearly that I am prepared to stand up for those principles.”

“To the electors of O'Connor, I reiterate the commitment that I have made to work tirelessly on your behalf, to always be frank and honest about the challenges we face, and to work cooperatively and collaboratively to improve the lives of the people who live in the greatest part of the greatest nation on earth”

– Rick Wilson MP Maiden Speech.