Abbott Government abandons Youth Connections program

Shadow Assistant Minister for Higher Education Amanda Rishworth MP and Senator Helen Polley will today meet staff and students at National Joblink in Launceston, a Youth Connections provider helping young people develop the required skills to return to school or training.
Youth Connections was created by Labor in 2010 to ensure young people don’t fall between the cracks and end up unemployed or dependant on welfare, all of which is now at risk as a result of the Abbott Government’s $1.7 million cut to Youth Connections funding effective 1 January 2015.
“If someone drops out of school because of family problems, or for any other reason, it is incredibly important that they be given a second chance to re-start their education,” Ms Rishworth said.
“Completing high school is an essential part of gaining meaningful employment and earning a wage.
“Youth Connections helps over 750 young Tasmanians a year, and since 2010 has helped over 1,400 young people in Northern Tasmania alone get back on the path to finishing school,” Ms Rishworth said.
Despite these results, the Abbott Government has failed to commit any funding to the program beyond 2014 – potentially forcing the seven Tasmanian Youth Connection locations to close their doors at year’s end.
“Tony Abbott is completing walking away from Youth Connections and the thousands of young people the program supports each year,” Ms Rishworth said.
“This is despite Tasmania having the highest youth unemployment rate in Australia at 17.5 per cent under the Abbott Government, up from 15 per cent.”
As well as not committing any further funding to the Youth Connections program, it was also revealed at Senate Estimates that the Minister for Education, Christopher Pyne, has not even asked his Department for advice about the importance of programs that make sure young people complete school and move into work.
“Youth Connections is an absolutely vital service. If young people slip through the cracks, the consequences can last a lifetime and impact us all through unemployment, the cost of welfare and the huge lost potential,” Senator Polley said.
“National Joblink Launceston alone helps over 200 young people each year, with approximately 150 progressing to education, employment or community service thanks to the critical support they each receive.
“Support is generally provided on a one-on-one basis and can tackle a number of issues including bullying and harassment, homelessness and substance abuse.
“The Launceston community needs to put pressure on the Abbott Government now so that we don’t see National Joblink close its doors at the end of 2014.
“At a time of rising youth unemployment, cutting these services would be incredibly short-sighted,” Senator Polley said.
Other Youth Connections providers in Tasmania which may be forced to shut their doors from 1 January 2015 include:
  • Colony 47 – Hobart, North Hobart, Launceston and Rosny.
  • National Joblink – Bellerive and Burnie.