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Thursday, 25 June 1998
Page: 4122


Senator DENMAN (3:24 PM) —I want to take note of the same answer, but mainly I want to dwell on the north-west coast of Tasmania where I live. The youth unemployment figure for the north-west coast is 40 per cent. It is one of the highest— probably the highest—youth unemployment figure anywhere in Australia. Also, up there we have fewer young people staying at school till year 12. In the area where I live it has been very difficult to get young people to stay on and complete their education. There are a lot of reasons for that. A lot of the reasons are to do with the families there. We need to educate the families to encourage their children to stay on at school.

That 40 per cent youth unemployment up there is going to be an enormous burden on those families from Burnie who will be losing their jobs within the next few months. Some of those families are going to find it very difficult because the children will be an extra burden on top of losing their jobs. I believe $50 million has been cut out of the student support service.


Senator Carr —Five hundred.


Senator DENMAN —Five hundred million has been cut out of the youth support service, which means 125,000 places. On the north-west coast of Tasmania where I am it is very difficult.

In the minority report that the Labor Party and the Democrats brought down a point was made about children who flee the system because they have experienced difficulty within the education system for years. Having been a teacher, I have taught a lot of those children and on the north-west coast they do not very often go beyond year 10.

There are a lot of reasons why those young people opt out of education, but we need to look at how the families will continue to support them when they do come out. Their reason for coming out often is that they are not academically minded and the school system does not provide anything to encourage them to stay on.

One of my other concerns is that, with the influx of students into the secondary system, I am not sure that the colleges in my area will cope. I know they will do their best. If there are extra students staying on, then we need to look at how the colleges are best going to be helped cope with that influx. I am concerned that the resources will not be there to adequately address the needs of these young people who are not academics and who are forced to stay on in the system till year 12 without actually gaining very much. Where I live that is difficult. There are no training programs there either and, with the closure of the Burnie mill, there will be fewer. It is not going to be easy up there.

The north-west coast is considered in Tasmanian terms—I know not in terms of Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland—an isolated area. Young people who have to move away from there to find work will have difficulty. Their families will find it difficult and stressful—not to let them go—to not know where their children are going and what support mechanisms are in place in other areas. I would like to see us have another look at this youth allowance, particularly in rural and remote areas. As an island state, Tasmania is again disadvantaged. Let us have another look at the youth allowance and how we can best use it to help some of these young people.