Universities, students and community sector meet to address student poverty

2 December 2019


A joint roundtable of academics, students and the community sector will today come together to work jointly on the causes and consequences of student poverty and hardship, and some of the solutions to support students to thrive.

The high-level roundtable has been convened by the Group of Eight (Go8) which represents Australia’s leading research-intensive universities, and the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS), the peak body for the community services sector in Australia.

The Go8 is specifically targeting improved Youth Allowance, Austudy and Abstudy for students who require support to graduate successfully. This focus fits within ACOSS’ wider remit of ‘raising the rate” to tackle community poverty and hardship.

Quote: ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie:

“This roundtable is an important opportunity for the university sector, students and the community sector to come together to work together on the causes and consequences of student poverty and hardship, and some of the solutions to it.

“Student poverty is a serious problem in Australia. A recent survey found that many students are skipping meals just to get by[1]. There are almost 11,000 university and VET students who are experiencing homelessness[2]. And too many young people report leaving their studies because they cannot afford to continue[3].

“We urgently need to increase Youth Allowance by $75 per week in order to address some of the worst poverty in our society and help our young people get ahead

Quote: Go8 CE Vicki Thomson:

“Students who should be able to graduate from post-secondary education, and to reach their potential for their own and the nation’s benefit, can require more financial support than is currently available.

“Not every student can access assistance or a roof over their heads from their families. Not every student can or wants to study locally. Not every student can graduate without financial stress.

“Some never apply for that reason. Others cannot afford to stay. We would want Government to prioritise investing more in equity for our students. While the Go8 does have significant equity support available for its students, this needs a joint approach with Government.”

Today’s small invitation-only Roundtable, at Parliament House Canberra, brings together experts from the university and social advocacy sector on student welfare, equity, financial and economic issues, plus organisations such as TAFE Directors Australia, and three student representatives. They will work through next joint advocacy steps, and the latest evidence-based research on student financial issues to support that.

Media contacts: 

Vicki Thomson, Go8 Chief Executive on +61 417 808 472 and ACOSS, Monique Vandeleur: 0419 626 155