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Monday, 22 September 2014
Page: 9897


Ms RISHWORTH (Kingston) (10:20): I move:

That this House:

(1) notes the importance of supporting young people transition from school into work or further training and preventing them from falling into the trap of unemployment

(2) recognises the important work done in ensuring that students are supported to make the transition through:

(a) the Youth Connections program that has a proven track record in helping young people who have not or are at risk of not completing year 12, transition back into school or further education, training and employment;

(b) the School Business Community Partnership Brokers program which builds partnerships between schools and the wider community including business and charities that help young people achieve year 12 or equivalent qualifications;

(c) National Career Development Strategy services that support vital links between industry, students and training options; and,

(3) is extremely concerned that there is no funding in the budget for these programs past 1 January 2015; and

(4) calls on the Government to immediately reverse its decision to no longer fund these programs past the 2014 calendar year.

Today, I move this motion because this House recognises, or should recognise, the importance of programs like the Youth Connections, the partnership brokers and the national career development service and the impact it has on the lives of young people in our communities—young people who have now been abandoned and betrayed by this Prime Minister and this government. This Prime Minister has let them down significantly. This government has walked away from its responsibility in supporting young people's transition from school to work. This is a government that simply fails to recognise the significant social and economic impact that cutting this critical support will have on Australians in the years to come. Indeed, supporting our students from school to work or further training can be considered the foundation on which the pillars of people's working lives rest in helping young people make the decisions they need to plan their futures. Even if Australia was to have—and we often have—great childhood early learning centres, the best schools, the best TAFES and the best universities, without supporting young people's transition from school into further study and training to help them to work out what they want do and what their futures hold, this transition will be fraught.

It is critical that young people get support when they are thinking about what awaits them in life after school. They do not necessarily know what they are good at, what appeals to them and which career will best suit them without some assistance and guidance from people and from services that help them work out where they want to go and how they will get there. In government, Labor invested over $700 million in programs like Youth Connections and partnership brokers—programs that support our young people to continue their studies or pursue further study or training for transition into the workplace. These programs actually get results. This is something that the government does not seem to understand. These programs were getting results, with almost 75,000 young people in the 2013 calendar year given a helping hand to Youth Connections. This figure was expected to top 100,000 at the end of the year.

Mr Laming: You defunded them. Why did you stop funding it?

Mr Hutchinson interjecting

Ms RISHWORTH: We can have members from the government benches whine all they like. They have to face the reality that they cut these programs. They cut these programs that were helping thousands and thousands of young people. Indeed, if we look at the Youth Connections program, it was incredibly successful, with over 80 per cent of young people still in work or education after two years. Nineteen per cent of young people who accessed the service were Indigenous students, 70 per cent of young people who benefited were in regional and remote areas and 40 per cent of young people who benefited were from the lowest socioeconomically disadvantaged groups and this assistance was making a difference. In government, Labor also delivered the partnership brokers program. This was designed to partner schools with the wider community, including business and charities, in actively supporting young people finishing year 12 or equivalent. There was also the national careers development service, which did a number of things and included the very successful jobs guide that I and many people for decades have been relying on to give advice about which courses to do to achieve career aspirations.

Of course, we had the Prime Minister travel to the US and talk about his admiration for a program that helps boost links with schools and businesses. Little did he understand that indeed he was cutting the program that was successfully achieving that in Australia. With Senator Polley I recently visited the National Joblink in Launceston, a Youth Connections provider which will likely be forced to close its doors at the end of the year because of the Prime Minister's cuts. Quite frankly, when speaking to Lisa, the Youth Connections coordinator in Launceston, she simply could not understand why the government would do this.

We get excuses from the government. They have offered measly support now; they have announced measly support for 3,000 students and young people in small pockets of the country. That cannot replace the significant investment to assist 75,000 people. The government need to reconsider this decision. They need to refund Youth Connections, the national partnership and the career service; otherwise young people will be significantly disadvantaged.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Vasta ): Is the motion seconded?

Ms Owens: I second the motion and reserve my right to speak.