Federal Budget 2024: Trainee teachers and nurses to be paid during placement under student relief plan

Dan Jervis-Bardy
The Nightly
2 Min Read
Education Minister Jason Clare says “placement poverty” is real.
Education Minister Jason Clare says “placement poverty” is real. Credit: The West

Trainee teachers, nurses, midwives and social workers will be paid during mandatory placements under another Federal Budget measure to help financially stretched students.

A day after announcing a commitment to wipe around $3 billion worth of HELP debts, Labor will on Monday unveil a new scheme to tackle so-called “placement poverty”.

Around 68,000 university students and 5000 TAFE students studying each year to be a teacher, nurse, midwife or social worker will be eligible for the $319.50-per-week payment during their clinical or professional placement.

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The scheme — which isn’t due to start until July 1, 2025 — will be means tested, meaning not all students will qualify.

The Government will consult with the sector on the eligibility criteria.

Paying students during their placement was a recommendation from the landmark Universities Accord, which heard “strong feedback” from students about the burden of unpaid work during their courses.

“Placement poverty is a real thing,” Education Minister Jason Clare said.

“I have met students who told me they can afford to go to uni, but they can’t afford to do the prac.

“Some students say prac means they have to give up their part-time job, and that they don’t have the money to pay the bills.

“This is practical support for practical training.”

The cost of the scheme is being kept under wraps until the Budget on May 14.

Labor believes the payments will help ease the crippling teacher and carer shortage and create a pipeline of social workers to respond to the crisis of family and domestic violence.

“We’re funding support for placements so our future nurses, teachers and social workers can gain the experience they need,” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said.

The paid-placement announcement follows a warm response to the Government’s commitment to act on spiralling student debts.

It will cap the HELP indexation rate to whichever is lower out of inflation or the wage price index — backdated to June 1 last year.

Under the reforms, someone with an average HELP debt of $26,500 will see around $1200 wiped from their outstanding loans.

Shadow treasurer Angus Taylor said student debts were only skyrocketing because Labor was struggling to contain inflation.

“Australians are paying the price for Labor’s economic mismanagement,” he said.

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