Mr BELL (Mount Gambier) (15:33): Before I begin my contribution, I want to thank my trainee, Emily Brown, who will be finishing up with us very soon. This is a speech derived from Emily's perspective and also her insight into a traineeship. Today, I rise to speak about an issue that is highly relevant amongst young people in my electorate, more specifically one group of young people in particular: year 12 graduates. It is an exciting and monumental time in these young people's lives; however, many year 12 students find that the excitement of finally being free from school quickly wears off once reality sets in—the reality being the pursuit of full-time work to undertake a gap year.
Gap years are becoming increasingly popular amongst school leavers for several reasons. For some, it is a chance to ponder a variety of career choices before committing to further study. Others may use this time as an opportunity to travel before buckling down to university. Then there are students from regional areas, many of whom find that they must seek full-time work so that they can earn enough money to cover the costs associated with moving away to attend university in a metropolitan area.
Regional students are at a significantly greater disadvantage to those already located in Adelaide. Students situated in Adelaide have the luxury of remaining at home whilst studying at university and therefore can usually begin their studies straightaway. In addition to the financial support this provides, city students who can continue living at home have the advantage of being in a familiar environment and in the same location as their family and friends. Remaining at home is often not an option for regional students, who are required to leave behind their support networks and familiar surrounds to undergo tertiary education as a result of living more than 100 kilometres from their campus.
Many metropolitan universities offer on-campus accommodation for students. However, some options at city universities can range in price between $400 and $500 per week, depending on the type of accommodation and the duration of the lease. For those students from regional areas, this is a substantial amount of money. On top of this, they must also consider groceries, tuition fees, textbooks, etc. Most students intending to move away to attend university apply for Youth Allowance, which is a fortnightly payment of $455.20 provided by the federal government to assist students with accommodation and living expenses once they are at university.
However, to be eligible for this assistance students must complete a 14-month gap year and show evidence of earning $24,582 over this period. A student's eligibility for Youth Allowance is also determined by their parents' income. If the joint income of both parents exceeds $160,000 per year, that young person is considered dependent and therefore does not receive the fortnightly payment, regardless of their own financial situation.
School leavers from regional areas do not have access to the same options as those from the city. While some regional students are lucky enough to receive a traineeship, the number of graduates looking for traineeships each year significantly outweighs the number of positions available. Again, these young people are at a disadvantage due to the increase in demand for gap year traineeships, particularly in regional areas. Meanwhile, students from Adelaide have far more options readily available to them should they choose to do a gap year.
Just under $25,000 may not seem like a large amount of money, but we are forgetting that many of these young people are between the ages of 17 and 19 and that, as a result, their pay rates may only just push them over the line. This is even more relevant for those students who do not receive a traineeship, as many who are unlucky find themselves working two or sometimes three jobs, often on casual or part-time wages, which makes it even more difficult.
As a result of the growing demand for traineeship positions, a number of schools within my electorate are now offering anywhere between two and five traineeships. It is with this information in mind that I take the opportunity to strongly encourage more local businesses in my electorate to consider appointing trainees for a gap year. The benefits for both parties are obvious: the business gains an extra staff member for that period and in the meantime, as well as taking the pressure off, young people are able to earn money, which provides them with understanding and experience of the adult workforce, which is beneficial. With that, I thank Emily Brown for her 12 months in my office and for all her work.