Urgent calls to end compulsory unpaid student internships

Academics are calling for students to be compensated for compulsory internships to stem high dropout rates amid a cost-of-living crisis in Australia, writes Abraham Silva for Samachar Central. Ruby Partland, a masters student in social work at RMIT, is required to complete 1,000 hours of unpaid internships to complete her degree – equating to around six months of full-time work. She said in the current economic climate, the situation was almost impossible.

“It’s not realistic,” she said. “You’re going to class and doing essays while on placement and working … people really suffer and have breakdowns. Many of my peers are struggling. People who didn’t go part-time were completely burnt out and disillusioned and have to go into the workforce [enthusiastically] when they’re already exhausted … A lot of them come from low socioeconomic backgrounds, their [families] don’t have thousands to loan and they think ‘maybe I’ll just quit’.”

Social work is among a range of vocational degrees including nursing, teaching, counselling and psychology that require hundreds of hours of mandatory unpaid placements. Under the Fair Work Act, students completing vocational placements aren’t considered employees and therefore aren’t entitled to minimum wage or other benefits. Experts say the lengthy, unpaid requirements were forcing students to drop out or move to part-time.
Full report on the Samachar Central site