Boarding Australia hosted a free webinar for over 60 participants in November to help boarding schools and residences understand recent changes to ABSTUDY.

Safe Travel Plans and other changes to ABSTUDY were announced in the 2018 budget to alleviate risks to students who have to travel multiple journeys to attend school.

Steve Florrison, webinar leader says, ‘I would like to thank Daniel Casey and Lorena Hernandez from the Department of Social Services for the really informative session on the ABSTUDY changes, particularly the Safe Travel Plans’.

‘Daniel and Lorena explained the changes, provided a lot of detail about how the requirements of Safe Travel Plans would work, advice on how schools could maximise payments, and answered many questions.’

‘One of the main concerns was about the length of time boarding staff could remain in communities when escorting students home, because this is a very good opportunity for staff to engage with parents and community.’

‘ABSTUDY are going to be flexible around these visits and allow reasonable time for engagement, except where single charters are involved, as an aircraft cannot remain on the ground for long periods of time.’

‘Feedback was very positive but unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time to answer all the questions, so we would like to do this again next year,’ Florisson says.

From 1 January 2019 Safe Travel Plans will be voluntary for the first six months, but will become mandatory from 1 July 2019.