02 September 2020
Last night the Prime Minister shut down debate on the so-called job-ready graduates bill, so today I'm speaking up on behalf of the 3,953 students, professional staff and academics at the Ourimbah campus of the University of Newcastle in my electorate. Ourimbah campus is dedicated to excellence and equity. Approximately 28 per cent of students at Ourimbah campus come through enabling programs—programs like Open Foundation and Newstep. These programs are now at risk because of the government's job-ready graduates bill. Enabling programs are debt free and offer a fair go at higher education. They produce many of our teachers, allied health workers and nurses—like my friend Renee, a paediatric nurse at Gosford Hospital. Sharon, a single parent from Wyongah in my electorate said: 'I am well aware that I owe much of my success to Open Foundation. It was so freely offered and well supported.'
Insecure funding will shut the door on local people before they even start. According to the University of Newcastle, under the current advice up to 60 per cent of our enabling program students would miss out on funding under the program. The Central Coast has been hit hard by COVID-19. When non-essential services were shut down the coast felt it. The national accounts today confirm Australia is in recession. One million Australians are out of work and another 400,000 are expected to lose their jobs by Christmas. At the same time, the Prime Minister is withdrawing support and hiking up the cost of education. COVID-19 recovery deserves a jobs plan—and it's not the job-ready graduates bill.