UOW researchers are “thrilled” after the government announced payment for student placements due to the alarming results of their poverty placement research.

Associate Professor Kelly Lambert and Dr Anne McMahon conducted a study with 600 responses from Australian students that showed 77 per cent of them experienced food insecurity during their work placement. 

Nutrition dietetics senior lecturer and Head of Students at Medical Indigenous Health Sciences Dr Anne McMahon said students the payment was urgently needed and it would help students academically and financially. 

“We are very thrilled to hear it [government announcement] some of the research we’ve looked at really shows that these students on a variety different professional degrees are doing it extremely tough,” Dr McMahon said.

“And it was very die and need, to do something urgently to allow these students be able to complete their degree with some security around their financial position.”

Dr McMahon said the research revealed 29 per cent of the 77 per cent of students who experienced food insecurity during their placement skipped meals regularly. 

“There are very significant numbers that we’ve seen in terms of food security, food security expenses you’re able to confidently eat properly…and what we saw there is only around 30 per cent of the population we spoke to can actually do that,” she said. 

In mid-2025, those who are eligible will be paid weekly during their placement including those studying to be a teacher, a nurse, a midwife, and a social worker. 

UOW nursing student Sophie Kors said she was disappointed about how long it was going to take for the payments to start. 

“I’d be really upset if I found out you know, pay placement was starting in the middle of the next year and I’ve just done 600 my 800 hours without any kind of compensation especially if you struggle through it to support yourself,” she said. 

The decision was made after the government announced cutting student debt for more than three million Australians. 

UOW researchers will publish more about their study soon.