Today’s post is a little off topic, its for an assignment for my subject News and Social Media in my Bachelor of Creative Arts Industries, so if readers want to skip this post, that’s perfectly fine (especially since it’s going to come across as a bit of a rant, apologies in advance). Today’s post will be a response to an article I found on the Victoria University website.
Free public transport needed for students – Victoria University
~Misaimed Audience: At first, I thought “Great! Someone from the University is finally addressing the lack thereof access of public transport to and from University.” However, it turns out it’s a moral guardian piece on how low socio-economic high school students are getting fined for not being able to afford access to public transport. I’m not really sure who the intended audience for this article is. A reader might think that it’s an article for university students studying a Bachelor of Social Work or TAFE students studying a Diploma of Youth Work, but the article is far too shallow and lacking in references for the article to be useful for them. There’s little to no evidence in the article to support the article’s view-points. For example:
Ms Roberston, who is a clinical supervisor at the WEstjustice Sunshine Youth Office, said about half of the youth legal centre’s clients, aged between 14 and 17, have sought help for public transport infringements.
This statement would carry a little more weight if some data had been added to it. Also, it fails to mention how many cases are being handled by the Sunshine Youth Office, the author could also have perhaps compared the case-load number to that of Sunbury Youth Centre and Melton Youth Centre.
Now, the author of the article does add Fare Go: Myki, Poverty and Access To Education in Melbourne’s West – WEst Justice (Western Community Legal Centre) as a reference link, but there are little to no substantial quotes that would lead to readers thinking that this problem was out of the ordinary or even urgent .
~Knowledge Is Power: At the risk of sounding insensitive and like one of those people who look down on poor people, I personally find it a little difficult to take articles like these seriously. Students under the age of 18 and belong in low socio-economic class can apply for welfare benefits like Youth Allowance and a Low Income Health Care Card (you have to wait until your 22 to be able to apply for independent Youth Allowance).
Low socio-economic families and/or teenagers are able to apply for what is known as the Low Income Health Care Card, those in possession of a Low Income Health Care Card are able to claim cheaper medicines under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
For example: birth control is $4.99 with the health care card, birth control without the health care card can range from $15-$20 depending on pharmacy.
They can also claim state and territory government and local council concessions, such as energy and electricity bills, health care costs (including ambulance and dental and eye care), public transport costs, educational fees and water rates. For those who are curious, it looks like this:
Now, there are some people who fall into the no-mans land of earning too much to be able to apply for Centrelink benefits like the Low Income Health Care Card but aren’t earning enough to get by or are barely scraping through.
That’s a difficult situation, and those people have my full sympathy, however anyone who is 16 years an over can apply for a Public Transport Student Concession Card, even TAFE and University students can apply for the public transport student concession card.
Although there are conditions and you have to check to see if your university is eligible. These concession cards (or the possible limitations of them) were not mentioned in this article.
~Just Another Brick In The Wall: The author is right to mention the possibility of Public Transport Ticket Inspectors having a quota to meet and are unfairly targeting teenagers who living in low socio-economic areas (the New York Police Department are doing the same thing).
The problems involved with improving access to education for teenagers from low socio-economic areas are multi-layered and systematic, I’m sure the cost of accessing public transport to get to school could be an influential factor, but I’m also sure it’s not the only one.
What about the fact that Ted Baillieu and Denis Napthine cut 300 million from the TAFE sector and other areas of Higher Education? Wouldn’t that be a bigger influential factor? What about the fact that Victoria University shut down it’s Melton Campus, Sunbury Campus and Sunbury Student Village? Wouldn’t that be a bigger influential factor?
And The Answer Is… 42: The author came across, to me, as trying to raise awareness of a problem affecting a vulnerable sector of society, however, the author didn’t put forth any suggestions for possible solutions either.
In the era of Social Justice Warriors, I don’t think it’s enough to simply raise awareness of a systematic disadvantage in society, however, I have taken it upon myself to brainstorm a couple of ideas that might work (however I would like to point out I’m not a qualified social worker or an expert in social welfare/economics):
Idea One: Victoria University runs a free security shuttle bus service, those availability hours can be extended to cover peak hour sections like 06:00 – 09:00 and 14:00 – 17:00, ensuring that students are able to use connecting public transport services.
Idea Two: Petition Current Government to make it mandatory for all Ticket Inspectors to wear recording cameras while on duty to prove or disprove economic targeting bias, make it a legal condition that people can apply for access to this footage for legal defence purposes. Also, demand to know where the revenue collected from said Ticket Inspectors is going. What projects are they funding?
Idea Three: Start up a petition to implement free public transport for ALL students (primary, secondary, tertiary), also offer to have independent funding to support it in conjunction with government funding like Kickstarter or Indigogo (or a lot of bake sales)
So readers, do you have any ideas that could improve access to public transport and education? Did you know that Victoria University had a free security shuttle service? Did you know that Victoria University have a car-pooling service? I certainly didn’t. Let me know what you know what you think in the comments section down below.