A student’s journey from regional Australia to Samoa

Tropical skies and crystal clear water is part of everyday life in Samoa. But it wasn’t all long walks on the beach and drinking from coconuts for university student Grace Barron.

Instead, she spent her time busily running from one location to the next, conducting presentations and screening to prevent and reduce nutrition related illness.

“The big, friendly smiles of the local people were a constant in Samoa,” Grace said.

“There’s a lot to be learned from the friendliness and warm nature of the culture, and the simplicity of island life.”

With a passion for health and nutrition, Grace leapt at the opportunity to volunteer in the Samoan city of Apia during her study break.

“My favourite moment from the trip was getting to legally ride on the back of a ute tray filled with freshly picked coconuts! You can’t do that every day in Australia,” said Grace.

“I’m now able to use my volunteer experience as credit towards my Bachelor of Public Health Nutrition.”

Before she embarked on her Samoan adventure, Grace had made the big move from rural Australia to the city so she could attend university – a journey in its own right.

“I loved growing up in a small country town, getting outdoors and involved in the local community through sport,” Grace said.

“I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I grew up, but I knew I wanted a career that was going to contribute to positive change in the world. I thought uni was the next logical step for me.”

With the closest university a few hours away, Grace always knew she would need to make some big changes to attend.

“Moving away from home was challenging to say the least! I had my fair share of homesickness and various washing disasters in my first year away,” Grace said.

“Youth Allowance really made a difference during the sometimes tough transition.”

For students like Grace, Youth Allowance can help with the costs of everyday living and study expenses.

“Even though I moved away from my parents, I was still considered dependent for Youth Allowance,” said Grace.

“This meant my parents’ income was taken into account when assessing my eligibility, and to stay on the payment I needed to provide my parents’ income details to Centrelink each year.”

Dependent students receiving Youth Allowance have recently received a letter asking for their parents’ income details.

The Department of Human Services needs this information to make sure students are paid the correct amount.

The income details need to be provided before the due date in the letter, otherwise the student’s Youth Allowance will stop.

“My parents are now in the routine of jumping online to provide the information through their myGov account,” said Grace.

Now back at uni after her adventure, and up-to-date with her Youth Allowance, Grace can focus on her university exams coming up.

“Moving away to uni was the best decision I’ve ever made. It opened up so many opportunities for me, including the volunteer work in Samoa,” Grace said.

“I have lots of big plans after university! I would love to go back to Samoa and use the skills gained at uni to help others.

“But one of my dream jobs is to deliver health education to kids – particularly kids growing up in regional areas like I did.”

More information

• Visit humanservices.gov.au/updateparentaldetails to learn more about the annual parental income test reassessment.