Med students left off the list for ‘placement poverty’ relief

3 minute read

The $320-per-week payment will support students undertaking unpaid placements for ‘the most important jobs in this country’. Apparently, that doesn’t include med students.

Nursing, midwifery, teaching and social work students undertaking unpaid mandatory placements may be eligible for the federal government’s new payment aimed at relieving “placement poverty”. 

But medical students have not made the cut. 

The federal government announced the new Commonwealth Prac Payment which will provide eligible nursing, midwifery, teaching and social work students who are undertaking mandatory placements with $319.50 per week from July 2025. 

“This will give people who have signed up to do some of the most important jobs in this country a bit of extra help to get the qualifications they need,” said federal Education Minister Jason Clare. 

The payments will be means-tested “to target students who need it most” and provided on top of any other income, to relieve cost-of-living pressures for around 68,000 higher education students and 5000 vocational education and training students. 

“Placement poverty is a real thing,” said Mr Clare.  

“I have met students who told me they can afford to go to uni, but they can’t afford to do the prac. 

“This is practical support for practical training.” 

The move follows recommendations from the Australian Universities Accord review into higher education, which was released earlier this year. 

After 18 months in the works, the report found that financial support was essential to ensure placements didn’t leave students “falling into poverty”. 

“Many students have to forgo paid work to undertake unpaid placements and relocate away from home, leading to ‘placement poverty’,” the paper says. 

“This results in poor early experiences in the workplace and negative perceptions of employment in the relevant industries, many of which are industries with longstanding skills shortages.” 

But apparently, this doesn’t apply to clinical placements for medical students. 

When asked by our sister publication The Medical Republic why medical students weren’t included in the payment scheme, Mr Clare said, “the Universities Accord team recommended we focus the Commonwealth Prac Payment first on teaching, nursing, midwifery, early education teachers and social work, and that’s what we’re doing”. 

The government plans to work with higher and vocational education sectors to introduce and deliver the payment by July 2025. 

More details about the payment are set to be released with the upcoming budget. 

The payment forms part of a suite of reforms and investments from the federal government to relieve cost-of-living pressures on students, including a new $50 million scholarship for healthcare workers looking to become nurse practitioners and endorsed midwives. 

The scholarship will fund 1850 postgraduate places for nurses and midwives, allowing them to become registered or endorsed to prescribe some medications, order pathology tests and insert contraceptive implants. 

CEO of the Australian College of Nurse Practitioners – which will be managing the program – Leanne Boase said it would “help further the education of nurses and midwives towards advanced and autonomous roles”. 

“We know that nurses and midwives working in primary care improve access to health care, and health outcomes,” said Ms Boase. 

“Supporting and enabling their development and full scope of practice will ensure more want to work in primary care, and it will also attract many more people into the workforce.” 

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