The St Vincent de Paul Society welcomed the opportunity to provide feedback on the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Better Targeting Student Payments) Bill 2017.

As an organisation committed to social justice and overcoming the causes of poverty and inequality, we recommend that the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Better Targeting Student Payments) Bill 2017 be rejected. The position of the Society has consistently been that income support should be accessible on the basis of need and paid at a level that ensures human dignity and an adequate standard of living. We also strongly support universal access to quality education and training, including for people from low-income backgrounds and those reliant on income support.

The Bill undermines these two fundamental principles, cutting payments to those who need them most and reinforcing disparities in access to education. We opposed have previously iterations of the Schedules contained in this Bill, which were rejected by the Parliament. We note two measures regarding the Education Entry Payment and Pensioner Supplement Payment have been altered so proposed payments are now reduced rather than scrapped completely, and a third measure regarding the Relocation Scholarship Payment has been introduced. The Society maintains its opposition to all these measures on the basis they will impede the ability of people on income support and students from disadvantaged backgrounds to undertake higher education or training.