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Greens Senator Calls for Wiping of SFSS Student Debt

Media Release
Mehreen Faruqi 5 Dec 2019

Australian Greens Senator and Education Spokesperson, Dr Mehreen Faruqi has called for the wiping of Student Financial Supplement Scheme debts which she has described as a rort that has severely impacted people’s lives. From 1993 till 2003 the Student Financial Supplement Scheme encouraged students, including minors acting without their guardians’ authority, to trade in their Youth Allowance for a loan. For every dollar of income support a student gave up, they incurred $2 in debt. While more than 15 years have passed since the Scheme’s abolition, its harms continue to be felt by more than 88,000 Australians with outstanding SFSS debts. These people owe just over $1bn, an average debt of $11,600 each.

Senator Faruqi said:

“I call on the Government to forgive outstanding debts from the grossly unjust Student Financial Supplement Scheme. The Scheme was a rort that targeted low-income and disadvantaged students from the start. For the Government to continue to collect debts on SFSS 15 years on from its abolition is simply unconscionable.

“Many people with SFSS debts have told me their stories and how the Scheme continues to impact their lives.

“These stories indicate the real imposition the SFSS continues to have on its debtors. It limits their choices and opportunities, in some cases affecting their ability to get home loans, and colours their lives with the psychological impact of living with a debt they know to be unfair.

“It’s time to ditch the debt. This has been allowed to go on for too long. In recognition of its inescapable unfairness and the lasting harmful impact the Scheme has had on its participants, I’m calling on the Government to forgive all outstanding SFSS debt.

“This is a vital step to bring closure and justice to Australians caught in the Scheme, and it’s not without precedent. This year alone the Morrison Government has waived nearly $500 million in unjust VET FEE-HELP debt that should never have been issued, more than the value of all outstanding SFSS debt. They must now do the same for the victims of the Student Financial Supplement Scheme by abolishing their debts,” she concluded.

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