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Federal Government to pay for practical placements

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Teaching, nursing, midwifery, and social work students will be eligible for $320 payments while they complete their placement.
Placement students will be eligible for $320 payments while they complete mandatory work experience.

The Federal Government has announced payments for students completing mandatory practical placements as part of their degree.

From 1 July 2025, nursing, teaching, midwifery, and social work students will be eligible for $319.50 a week during placements.

It comes after a recent independent review called for an end to “placement poverty” — the financial pressure placed on students during unpaid, compulsory placements.

The full details of the support payment will be included in next week’s budget.

Placements

Students across degrees like teaching and nursing must complete practical placements and professional training. Placements are typically unpaid and can last several weeks.

For example, students enrolled in nursing degrees are required to complete 800 hours (20 weeks) in a clinic or hospital. Midwives need 1,600 hours (40 weeks).

Teachers need to do about 600 hours (16 weeks) in a classroom.

Placement poverty

As placements are often full-time, many students don’t have time to earn money through work.

The term “placement poverty” describes the financial pressure placed on students during tertiary work experience.

In some cases, students must live and work remotely for part of their course. For example, medical students training to become a doctor might need to move to a regional area in order to get their qualification.

Review

In February, a Federal Government-commissioned review of the Australian tertiary education system identified long periods of unpaid placement as a major factor driving students into “placement poverty”.

It recommended the government introduce financial support for students doing unpaid placements.

The review specifically identified nursing, teaching, and care work for payments.

Payments

The Federal Government’s Commonwealth Prac Payment will be available to people studying teaching, nursing, midwifery, and social work.

Eligible students will receive $319.50 per week during a placement.

The initiative will be available to 73,000 university and TAFE students, according to Government estimates.

The payments will be means-tested, meaning some students will be excluded depending on their personal financial and living situation (e.g. living at home).

Other payments such as Austudy or Rent Assistance won’t be impacted by prac placement support.

The payment will be “benchmarked to the single Austudy per week rate”, which is also $319.50 a week for a single person. Austudy increases once a year on 1 January at the rate of inflation (rising prices).

Government

Education Minister Jason Clare said: “Placement poverty is a real thing. I have met students who told me they can afford to go to uni, but they can’t afford to do the prac.”

He added the payments target those studying to “do some of the most important jobs in this country”.

Clare didn’t rule out future payments for other students who must undertake placements.

Response

Peak body Universities Australia said students will be “better off” with these payments as “fewer Australians will have to choose between paying the bills and studying”.

National Union of Students president Ngaire Bogemann welcomed the payments, but told TDA they don’t “go far enough”.

“Every week, we hear yet another horror story about students on placement skipping meals and sleeping in their cars,” Bogemann said, urging the Government to increase the payment and apply it across more degrees.

Opposition

Shadow Education Minister Sarah Henderson told TDA the Opposition would consider placement payments when more policy detail becomes available.

She added: “We understand that tertiary students are suffering acute cost of living pressures”.

Greens Deputy Leader Mehreen Faruqi said the payments won’t “touch the sides of the crisis”, and urged the Government to offer the payment to all placement students, regardless of their degrees.

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