When Master of Education student Callum Ward got his first opportunity to teach in a classroom, he knew he had found what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. The 22-year-old completed his first practicum earlier this year at a school in Sydney’s inner west. The first-year student travelled almost an hour by train to get there. One day, he wasn’t sure he had enough money to cover the fare. “I had to go, OK, do I want to eat some lunch today or do I want to get to prac?”, said Ward.
It’s a choice the Macquarie University student feels he shouldn’t have to make, and he’s not alone. Ward is a member of a national grassroots student collective called Students Against Placement Poverty (SAPP), which is campaigning for university placements to be paid. The group has members across a range of degree programs including Education, Social Work and Nursing. According to Co-Founder Isaac Wattenberg, many students are struggling to complete unpaid work amid a cost-of-living crisis.