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Monday, 4 July 2011
Page: 7436

Mr NEUMANN (Blair) (10:39): The federal Labor government recognises that, despite improvements in the labour market, at the national level some regions continue to experience considerable difficulties. One such region is the Ipswich-Logan area. That is why we are so pleased to see that the federal Labor government has extended the Priority Employment Area initiative and allocated another $45.2 million over two years. This means we will continue to have a local employment coordinator in the Ipswich-Logan area working closely with stakeholders to help drive local solutions to local labour market problems.

One local solution, which has been rolled out nationally but which has had a local impact in my area, is the Local Connections to Work program run through the Centrelink office in the Ipswich under the auspices and management of Tony Perera, the Centrelink manager in Ipswich. Over 80 Ipswich residents are now in work thanks to this new federal Labor government program. It celebrated its first anniversary last Friday, and I was pleased to attend the celebration with the Minister for Human Services, Tanya Plibersek. It is a big, successful program operating under one roof where stakeholders, employment service providers, Medicare Australia, Boystown, the Salvation Army, Max Employment, Reed in Partnership, the Spiritus Reconnect program, the Ipswich City Council, Steps to Success and other stakeholders have been involved in helping long-term unemployed and disadvantaged youth as well as others in need of intensive support.

In Ipswich, in my electorate, over 400 people have participated in the Local Connections to Work program, and, as I said, over 80 people have obtained employment. There have been 274 referrals to other services, such as health services, education options and employment services to improve the lives of many young people. We have seen families reunited after years of separation. This is one of nine programs that are currently operating throughout the country through which more than 500 disadvantaged Australians have found jobs. This is an example of the federal Labor government's caring for those in vulnerable, challenging and difficult circumstances. The success of the Local Connections to Work Program in places such as Ipswich has prompted the government to announce that another 15 sites will be opened between now and 2015.

Two young women were present at the first anniversary celebration of this new government program. They have had their lives changed, and they gave testimony to this. They were Kiyan Sabine, who comes from Churchill and got work experience volunteering with Busy Beat—which was built with a contribution of $650,000 through the Jobs Fund—and Jacqueline Taylor, who comes from Bellbird Park and highly recommended that people use the Local Connections to Work Program. After years of struggling to find jobs, being disadvantaged and sometimes being separated from family and friends, they have obtained employment. Jacqueline has obtained a job with Hog's Breath Cafe, and she is working towards one day working in the animal rehabilitation field. (Time expired)