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Government drops youth affairs in 'too hard' basket.



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Media Release

 

Australian Catholic Social Welfare Commission

A Commission of the Australian Catholic Bishops

 

23 June, 1998

11/98

 

Government Drops Youth Affairs in ‘Too Hard’ Basket

 

The Minister for Youth Affairs, Dr David Kemp, plans to defund the lon g-established national youth affairs organisation, Australian Youth Policy and Action Coalition (AYPAC). AYPAC is to be replaced by a Youth Roundtable which will meet with Government only twice a year on issues ranging from employment to youth suicide.

 

Speaking on behalf of peak Catholic social service and policy organisations and religious orders, Mr Toby O’Connor, National Director of the Commission said today, “We have severe misgivings about this decision. The Minister’s planned meetings with a hand-picked youth group is no substitute for the true representation and credible policy analysis of AYPAC. This initiative risks gagging the voice of young Australia in national policy debate and must be reversed.

 

“It is difficult to see how the termination of a highly regarded national youth affairs body could be driven by anything other than the Coalition’s particular insensitivity to sections of the community that rightly scrutinise public policy decisions that affect all of us” Mr O’Connor said.

 

He went on to question the Commonwealth Government’s track-record on youth affairs, “For a Government that says ‘young people are the trustees of Australia’s future’, there is little to show it has seriously addressed the plight of young people who have been pushed to the fringes of our society. Youth unemployment remains three times higher than the national average and is associated with high rates of youth suicide, homelessness, and despair.”

 

Mr O’Connor added, “The defunding of AYPAC is the most recent in a long line of initiatives which threaten to harm young people. To suppress the voice of youth in a highly-contested political environment comes close to an admission of failure by Government and suggests youth affairs are being consigned to the ‘too hard’ basket.

 

“I urge the Minister to reverse his decision concerning AYPAC as a vital first step in developing youth policy that actually brings some hope to young Australians.” Mr O’Connor concluded.

 

With the Support of:

Australian Conference of Leaders of Religious Institutes

Centacare Australia

Melbourne Catholic Social Services

Uniya Jesuit Social Justice Centre

Catholic Commission for Justice, Development and Peace (Melb.)

 

For further information contact:

Mr Toby O’Connor

National Director

Phone: (02) 6285 1366 or AH: 0419 417 563

 

 

KD