Kate Ellis, Minister for Early Childhood Education, Child Care and Youth, announced today that the Australian Government will introduce theHigher Education Legislation Amendment (Student Services and Amenities) Bill 2009 into the Parliament tomorrow.
This Bill once again proposes a balanced, practical approach to funding campus services and amenities; an approach that was voted down by the Opposition during the last sitting period.
“This Government is determined to deliver on our election commitment to rebuild essential student services and amenities on university campuses,” Ms Ellis said.
“And we make no apology for honouring that commitment today by introducing this important legislation.”
The Government’s approach is about restoring necessary services and amenities for students and it does not allow for a return to compulsory student unionism.
Under the previous Government, close to $170 million was ripped out of university funding, resulting in the decline and in some instances complete closure of vital health, counselling, employment, child care, sporting and fitness services.
Some universities have reported being forced to redirect funding out of research and teaching budgets to support services and amenities that would otherwise have been cut.
“If the Coalition fails to move beyond their ideologically blinded position on this issue and vote to pass this critical legislation, it is our students who will continue to pay the price,” Ms Ellis said.
“And the students who will suffer most are those from rural and regional areas.”
University services and amenities in regional areas are not just used by students but the whole community. In regional areas the university provides an important social hub for the community and creates much needed local jobs.
The National Party has indicated that they are willing to support this legislation so far as it will provide funding for essential health and sporting services and amenities.
“This is welcome news and I commend the National Party for their commitment to students from rural and regional areas. But I also call on them to recognise that there are other essential campus services, which are also in dire need of funding, such as legal or counselling services,” Ms Ellis said.
This legislation supports funding for fundamental services that help students to navigate university life, achieve success in their studies and enable them to participate in sport and the university community.
“I know that the National Party recognises how important this Bill is and I call on them to join with the Government to rebuild essential services and amenities on our university campuses.”