Opposition calls for clarity around Student Assistance Payment access

Shadow Education Minister Peter Rundle MLA has accused the Government of failing to disclose alternative pathways to access its highly touted Student Assistance Payment, which is available to claim today.

Mr Rundle said numerous families had contacted his office to express concern around a “burdensome” application process, which requires a compulsory sign up to the Service WA app.

“It was a strange decision to gatekeep this funding behind a clunky and unhelpful app, rather than ensuring it is easily and readily available to all households,” Mr Rundle said.

“When I raised this issue with the Minister for Education in Parliament, he accused me of fabricating these concerns, but one only needs to look at his social media accounts to see dozens of families have been unable to access the Service WA app.”

Mr Rundle said the State Government had failed to disclose alternative claim methods to access the Student Assistance Payment were available.

“The Department of Education website offers an online claim form as well as a paper form which can be submitted through the post.

“It’s disappointing the Minister has not publicised these alternative claim methods, which are readily available, as this may have reduced angst for families struggling with the cost-of-living crisis and having difficulty accessing the payments through the Service WA app.

“It’s particularly disappointing that many schools have not even been made aware of these alternative claim methods, leaving them unable to pass this information on to parents and families.”

These forms can be accessed online at WA Student Assistance Payment (education.wa.edu.au)

Mr Rundle said the Opposition welcomed cost-of-living measures for WA families.

“WA families have been bearing the burden of skyrocketing housing, fuel and groceries under this out-of-touch and arrogant Cook Labor Government.

“While the Student Assistance Payment is welcomed, this funding should have been announced and in place prior to the commencement of Term 1, when struggling families needed to purchase new uniforms, books, and pay their school fees.”

Mr Rundle said The Opposition also called on the State Government to use their $3.7 billion budget surplus to reinstate the Boarding Away from Home Allowance (BAHA) to its previous level.

“In 2017, as part of a series of cruel cuts to regional education, the WA Labor Government slashed funding for BAHA by $785 per student.

“Restoring this funding to its previous level would help over 1,800 students at a cost of just $1.57 million per year, yet the Cook Labor Government stubbornly refuses to address this financial hardship for regional families.”