Over 50% of prostitutes in Australia are full-time students struggling to pay for rent and groceries, according to the leader of the Australian Independents Dr. Patricia Petersen.
Petersen said that her party was committed to abolishing TAFE and HECS fees, concerned about rising student debt. Independents will also allow students to earn an additional $200 each week, and will immediately address cost of living expenses if the party is elected.
The average Australian university student leaves school with a $100,000 debt, according to Petersen.
“We are a first world country,” Petersen said. “There’s no reason why we can’t be known as the smart nation and become globally competitive.”
During her time as university professor, Petersen said students would often confide in her. They would explain how they earned money and how other students worked as sex workers.
“University and TAFE should be accessible to everyone and this includes young people from working and middle class families,” Petersen said. “We need to abolish all fees and give young people a leg up.”
The former economics teacher said fees put students at a disadvantage.
One 22-year-old Monash student said she had been working as an escort for 18 months, and though she admitted the work was not ideal, it allowed her to afford an education and live out of her parents’ home.