Giving a voice to a million Have Nots

A new report highlights the crushing disadvantage of lack of access to government funding for migrants who have come to Australia on humanitarian visas – allowed to stay, but not allowed a loan to study.

While 40% of Australians aged 25-34 hold a Bachelor degree and above, the proportion of Maori and Pasifika people living in Australia with degrees is below 15%.

More than one million permanent Australian residents lack access to HELP loans due to the nature of their visa status, according to a new paper on connecting with disadvantaged communities by Professor Andrew Harvey, Strengthening university engagement with communities.

Drawing on insights from the Pathways in Place program – a program involving Griffith University engaging with Logan in Queensland and Victoria University engaging with Brimbank, the report notes that place-based approaches can be pivotal in addressing disadvantage.

The Universities identified underserved groups in each community and set about examining ways to drive inclusion. In particular, the report notes that  ‘better data is critical to identifying and serving marginalised communities.’

If an academic paper can approach a love letter, then this one is a sonnet especially for Education Minister Jason Clare. As the Federal Government mounts a reforming crusade through the Accord process to open up access to the marginalised and disadvantaged, this practical guidebook for understanding and quantifying issues in key localities of need provides invaluable insights.

The paper stops short of funding solutions, noting that consulting First Nations people and then including other underserved populations with the opportunity to contribute to reports and solution-finding is an essential foundation for change.

In doing so, it points to a critical matter that the Accord must address if it is to seriously tackle disadvantage – what to do for and with the million permanent Australian residents to tackle HE access, given many cannot afford to participate on a fee-paying basis.



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