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Monday, 22 September 2014
Page: 10109


Ms HALL (ShortlandOpposition Whip) (13:25): I believe this is an exceptionally important motion because it deals with youth unemployment, with the transition of young people from school to work and with making sure that they can actually achieve that goal.

I was absolutely shocked at the simple fact that, in this budget, the funding for Youth Connections was cut. Youth Connections is a fantastic program. It has a great track record and it has really delivered in my electorate, and particularly on the Central Coast. I noticed that the member for Robertson and the member for Dobell came to this House and spoke about small business. I thought that they would be up here speaking up this particular private member's motion. The Central Coast is an area in Australia that has a very low retention rate and an extremely high youth unemployment rate. It is an area that Youth Connections has played a very important role in. There have been a number of programs. One program that I have been particularly involved with—and I might say it no longer exists since the budget— was the Brighter Futures local solutions program, which really delivered to young people on the Central Coast.

Youth Connections on the Central Coast works with organising work placements and partnership brokers. It has innovative learning programs, ability programs and youth reference groups. Bara Barang is working with the local Darkinjung people and delivering a program in that area. In the Lake Macquarie part of my electorate, I have an employment group that works out of my office. We have run a number of events locally. We are also working on identifying jobs in demand in the area and then going out and talking to providers and trainers that would be able to provide those people that are looking for work with the skills they need to obtain work. Youth Connections has been one of the organisations that have had a lot of input into that. It had a lot of input into an employment expo that we held down in Windale a couple of years ago—a community day where we brought the whole community together. The role it plays in connecting unemployed youth, or youth that are leaving school, with work is vitally important.

On apprenticeships, this government has attacked apprenticeships. One of the areas where we have been working hard on locally has been attracting students at the local high schools to undertake school-based apprenticeship training. It has been very successful and, once again, Youth Connections has been really active in that space. This government uses rhetoric and puts in place harsh programs that are going to make it hard for young people when they leave school to actually achieve that goal of a job—even to undertake the training, when they will have no financial support whilst they are doing it. The organisations that have been funded to provide them with the support and training that they need can no longer function because they have been defunded. This leaves young people in a situation where they are devoid of hope and of opportunities, and at the same time those organisations I have talked about are no longer in a space where they can operate and give the training they would like to—the partnership brokerage. Even books like the job guide the department produced which provided information on jobs and training will no longer be funded by this government after next year. In every area resources are being taken away, and at the same time there is this enormous demand being placed on young people to find jobs. They have to do that without resources. They have to do it without support, and the organisations have been defunded. (Time expired)