NUS Launches Campaign Lobbying Government for More Student Support26 March 2019
The National Union of Students (NUS) have laid out their campaigning agenda titled “A Future Worth Fighting For”, aiming to lobby the government for improved student support and action on student issues.
The plan, announced on February 7, is backed up by several university presidents across the country, tackling key student issues such as climate change, student poverty, affordable accommodation for students, and a fully funded post-secondary education.
“The main priority of our campaign is to ensure that the student voice on key issues relating to students and young people are on the agenda, that politicians are listening to us, and students are more engaged with the issues that affect them in the lead up to the Federal Election” said NUS President Desiree Cai.
In particular, NUS will be advocating for a national taskforce with the inclusion of a student representative to deal with sexual assault and harassment on campus.
A report released by the Australian Human Rights Commission in 2017 found that around one in four students were sexually harassed at a university setting in 2016, including when travelling to and from university.
“Universities are not taking this problem seriously. We demand action, we demand an independent, accountable National Taskforce that works with students to address this national crisis,” said NUS National Women’s officer Sarah Tynan in an NUS statement of the campaign agenda.
Shortly after the introducing the campaign, the NUS released a pre-budget submission in early February which they laid out their recommendations to the government on more student income support. This includes raising student income support, along with the rent assistance, to 75 per cent of the Henderson Poverty line as opposed to the current levels of 29 to 52.3 per cent for those living at home and 52.6 to 66 per cent for those away from home.
The submission also urged the implementation of increased communication between the Australian Taxation Office and those with HELP debts while re-implementing discounts and financial literacy programs. Specifically, the NUS suggested the HECS threshold including raising it to $55,874 from the lowered $44,999 to accommodate the rising costs of living.
In an effort to tackle both climate change and education funding, the NUS recommends removing subsidies for fossil fuels and implementing a 10 per cent flat tax on gas companies for the next ten years. According to the organisation, the money made from the two initiatives would allow for the funding of free education.
“The future for young people is looking increasingly bleak so we’re calling on the government to implement positive policies for our future. Students deserve action on these issues, we deserve to have a future worth fighting for”, said Cai in the NUS media statement.
The NUS said they will advertise the first phases of their campaign during orientation dates at universities across the country and continue highlighting these issues during the election season while suggesting policy changes.
“For students looking to get involved, get in touch with your student union on campus, we’ll be working in partnership with them on our campus. We will also have a range of actions coming up including the university student contingent in solidarity with the school strike 4 climate on the 15th of March,” added Cai.