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Why Senate should reject removal of Pensioner Education Supplement

Published: 5 February 2016

The Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) agrees with the recommendation of Labor and Greens senators in yesterday’s Senate report that the Government should not pass the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Budget Repair) Bill 2015.

Passing the Bill will remove the Pensioner Education Supplement (PES) that is worth up to $36.20 per week for approved students on the Disability Support Pension, said AASW National Vice President, Christine Craik today.

“If the Senate passes the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Budget Repair) Bill 2015 currently before them, it will remove the annual $1800 supplement that helps these students meet education costs,” Ms Craik said.

“Instead the AASW is calling on the Senate to reject this element of the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Budget Repair) Bill and to increase rather than remove the Pensioner Education Supplement and Education Entry Payment.”

Ms Craik’s comments support the arguments within the AASW’s submission to the Senate which the Coalition has quoted in yesterday’s Senate Community Affairs Budget Repair report.

“The Coalition senators’ recommendation to pass the proposed legislation with transitional arrangements for those who already receive the Pensioner Education Supplement flies in the face of all the reforms under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS),” Ms Craik said.

"The NDIS is about helping people with disability to continue to play a productive part in our society and economy and students with disability who have proven that they can attend tertiary education deserve and require more support, not less.”

There are now more students with disability accessing tertiary education but they still face some major obstacles according to recent research by the AASW and James Cook University. It reveals that over 2 per cent of social work degree students nationally are on a disability support pension and many often struggle financially to survive.

“Over half of these students reported regularly going without food or other necessities, only a quarter had savings in the event of a financial difficulty and just 16 per cent had financial support from parents, partners or other family members,” said Ms Craik..

The AASW represents over 9,000 professional social workers from around Australia – many of whom work on the front line of poverty prevention.

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

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers