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New study reveals students also struggling

Published: 21 June 2016

A third of students are regularly going without food and other necessities because of a lack of financial support, a new study has revealed today.

Conducted by the Australian Association of Social Workers and James Cook University, the National Study of Social Work Students, which surveyed 2320 students across Australia, provides further evidence on the need to increase the rates of government allowances particularly Youth Allowance, Austudy and Abstudy, says AASW Vice-President, Christine Craik.

“The study has shown that a third of social work students are regularly going without necessities such as food and another third are having substantial difficulties from time to time that affect their ability to engage in their studies,” said Ms Craik.

“About half of the students reported not having enough money to buy all recommended texts, and a third reported skipping classes to attend paid work to support their studies.”

The study also revealed a number of the hidden impacts of the government’s low level of financial support including students not having enough money for food (33%), clothing (39%), accommodation (27%), transport (36%) or medication (29%).

“University courses are intellectually demanding and require considerable effort to complete them successfully. At present, Australia’s low rates of allowances place a huge economic burden on supported students, but students who are not receiving any allowances are also struggling,” Ms Craik said.

Student payments are poorly targeted with the study revealing that many students who do not receive government assistance also experience serious economic difficulties.

For Australia to be agile, innovative and creative, it needs to support students, Ms Craik said. “Despite evidence from Universities Australia, and now the National Study of Social Work Students, significant numbers of tertiary students have been struggling financially for some time; we are now reaching a crisis point,” she said.

“While universities can do a number of things at a local level to help students who are struggling financially, they cannot make up for low and declining levels of direct government assistance and good social policy at the federal level.

”If we are interested in innovation and education our country has to stop telling students to take out more loans that will get them further into debt,” Ms Craik said.

The AASW represents 10,000 professional social workers nationwide.

To organise an interview with Christine Craik, contact AASW Emma Pegrum, Media and Marketing Manager, on 02 6199 5011 or 0408 200 191

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers