In the media

Finally – an educated adjustment to HECS calculations

Media release, 5 May 2024

In May last year, a group of local young people and concerned parents told me of their distress at the way HECS/HELP debt is calculated. That month I took those observations to the Federal Minister for Education who remarked at the time, “Tink has a point”. In March this year I met with the Minister again to advocate for reform but to also ask for debt forgiveness.

Over a year since that work began, and after strong advocacy from the crossbench, today’s announcement of a new approach to indexation as well as debt forgiveness from last year is overdue, but welcome.

This is an example of the change that can be delivered when a government is prepared to listen to the community. This is politics done differently.

Today’s announcement will have an immediate, positive impact on the lives of millions of young people who are grappling with escalating living costs and financial insecurity.

It is positive the government has listened and ensured the changes include retrospectively lowering the indexation figure paid by students on June 1 last year to the wage growth figure of 3.2 per cent.

This is a big win for young people, particularly young women, who have larger HECS debts but consistently earn less than men. By removing the unnecessary burden of thousands of dollars of debt, young people can focus on moving ahead with their lives.

Tertiary education is an investment in our future. It’s critical we not only alleviate immediate financial pressures but have a system that supports greater productivity and community prosperity.

Today’s announcement is also a small but important step towards improving intergenerational equity. However, there is much more we can do to improve outcomes for the next generation including implementing other recommendations of the Universities Accord, reforming our tax system, acting urgently on climate change and investing in a future-focused economy.

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