31 May 2011
Dear Sir/Madam;
AusAID First Assistant Director General,
Sectoral Policy Division

Re: Request for CLE/ Stipend Adjustment

It’s been an honor for everybody of us to hold a prestigious Australian Leadership Award (ALA) scholarship and having studies at the Australian universities. We appreciate all supports that we receive while we are studying in Australia. Being the ALA scholars, we have engaged with various wonderful experiences in university’s environment and also contributed significantly to the improvement and enhancement science and knowledge through our own researches. Meanwhile, maintaining and developing our own social networks in our new environment in Australia has become another agenda that we always pursue while we are studying here.

Ironically, while we - as the holders of the prestigious ALA scholarship and named as future leaders - strive to expand networks and contribute to science and knowledge, we have been living below the poverty line and consequently many of us now also have to spend time to seek money just to meet our daily needs. Currently, many ALA scholars who live in big cities are struggling to survive for their daily life due to rising of several important livelihood costs. Cost of house/ renting unit primarily has taken out about 60 - 70% of our CLE (Contribution of Living Expenses), electricity and transportation cost keep increasing every year and other basic items of living have “sucked” our CLE beyond the limit. Meanwhile, we feel miserable to the ALA scholars with family (usually PhD students) that have received greater living pressures due to this inflation, and in few cases, they must send back their spouse and children to their origin country. Static amount of CLE since June 2009 has worsen the situation and compel many ALA scholars work in informal sector casually such as cleaners, junk mail or newspaper distributors, just to survive for their life.

Many of us have also sacrificed our comfort to hire a very small and uncomfortable room or units just to save some amount of money for other needs. Despite making a network and contributing to science and knowledge and being a poor or low income person/ family, many ALA scholars are now busy spending time to seek money for our daily life. Certainly this situation has never been considered in our minds before.

Having informed our livelihood conditions;

1. We strongly plea the AusAID to consider for a significant adjustment and increment of our CLE stipend as earliest as possible. As required for the AusAID to review the CLE annually, we demand this significant CLE adjustment can be made, at least, based on real inflation and normal living structure in every location in Australia.

Though we understand that current CLE stipend never aims to cover family, we strongly recommend the AusAID to review its policy for CLE stipend differentiation between family and single awardee, in current and future ALA scholarship arrangement. In this current economic situation, we believe this policy has created massive disadvantaged for awardees with family and potentially disturbed the family internal relationship in the future. We are not sure how one can survive life without their family in 3-4 years. One mother cannot think her life without her children and one father cannot be irresponsible to his family and children, simply because they started their study. We request the AusAID to look from the 'shoes' of mothers and parental hoods, and in this case, we strongly argue that education cannot be separated out from parental responsibilities.

2. We believe this significant adjustment and differentiation of CLE stipends can improve our living condition here so that we can concentrate upon our original objectives we come to Australia, that is … to study and create more networks among us and Australian colleagues.

We thank you for your kind consideration and assistance,

Best regards,

ALA Scholars

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The ALA Stipend Adjustment petition to AusAID was written by Medrilzam and is in the category Education at GoPetition.