Social Policy students from The University of Queensland may have helped to make public transport in Queensland free for children on weekends by submitting a proposal to State Government as part of their course assessment.
Angela Richardson, Jahmayne Coolwell, Samantha Miranda and Harrison Bailey-Lukac were involved in the project and asked to come up with an idea for policy change – at Federal, State or Local Government level – and develop the idea into a fully-fledged policy proposal modelled on a cabinet submission.
Head of Sociology at UQ Associate Professor Paul Henman said the requirements of the proposal was that it needed to include the current policy setting, why we might need the change, the possible implementation issues and cost of doing so, as well as publicity and evaluation strategies.
The students then had to submit their proposal to the relevant government Minister.
“The due date for their proposal was Sunday, 5 June, and although there is no way we can see the exact effect the students’ submission had on the process as there was a current transport review being undertaken at the time, a front page newspaper article confirming children will travel free on weekends from early next year appeared in the media one week later,” Dr Henman said.
Angela and Jaymane wanted to find a policy area that they hadn’t looked at before and came up with a change that had the potential to be implemented and taken seriously.
“We wanted families to be able to go out and enjoy a weekend at low cost, and encourage social inclusion for families and friends to stay connected,” Angela said.
“We all know how hard catching public transport can be with children swiping on and off each card, and then if you forget to swipe off a penalty fee is charged so it can end up being quite expensive, especially if you are travelling with a few children or have a large family.”
They decided to put forward the Family Fair Policy which would allow children (5 - 12 years) to travel free on weekends with a paying adult.
“We decided that Family Fair Policy had potential as Queensland didn’t have anything like it at the time while other states had similar offers for families,” Angela said.
“The project gave us an insight into writing policy proposals and taught us how much work goes into them, as well as the importance of explaining the proposed changes clearly and logically.”
Children under 14 will be given free weekend fares in southeast Queensland under the Palaszczuk Government’s long-awaited review of public transport.
The new fare and zone structure will begin in early 2017. Under the new system, children up to and including 14 years of age will be able to tap on and off on weekends using a Child Go Card with no fare deducted from the account.