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Latham endorses government's strategy.



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Media release

Latham Endorses Government's Strategy

18/02/2004

Mark Latham's speech to the Press Club today was a glowing endorsement of the Government's highly successful Stronger Families and Communities Strategy and focus on mentoring, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Larry Anthony, said.

"The Stronger Families and Communities Strategy is based on the belief of empowering local communities to find solutions to their local problems. Mr Latham's endorsement of the Government's approach is welcome.

"The Strategy provides funding to local organisations working at the grass roots level and since its inception in 2000 has funded 616 programs including:

o 187 Mentoring and Leadership programs o 135 Early Childhood programs o 95 Parenting programs o 47 Relationship Skills Programs o 91 Community Building programs; and o 61 volunteering programs

"However, Mr Latham today failed to acknowledge the Australian Government's commitment to mentoring. Contrary to his claims that the Government is only contributing a couple of million dollars in this area, the Coalition Government funds the $4.4 million Mentor Marketplace program and has spent $23 million through the Stronger Families and Communities Strategy on mentoring and leadership programs.

"This funding is very effectively engaging young people with people in business, schools and communities and fostering community leaders. We are supporting many groups including Big Brothers Big Sisters, The Smith Family and Youth Off the Streets.

"However, it is ironic that Mr Latham has become the ALP's chief proponent for mentoring. You have to ask, what type of a mentor would he be to young Australians? Do we want young Australians to aspire to assault taxi drivers? Do we want young Australians taking their lead from a man who promotes violence in sport?

"The Leader of the Opposition uses his background as justification for his bad language and violent behaviour. He has said, You never use disadvantage as an excuse for irresponsible and bad behaviour. You never. You never.

"Mr Latham's past behaviour is in stark contrast to the values he is now espousing. It is difficult to take him seriously when he has been unable to walk the talk," Mr Anthony said.