Government must commit funding for Youth Connections

access_visit.jpgMr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (13:54): I want to brief the House on the great work of a local education training, and employment organisation in my electorate of Throsby, Access Community Group. In particular, I want to talk about the success of the nationwide Youth Connections Program.

Youth Connections has provided assistance for over 30,000 disadvantaged young people between the ages of 13 and 19, helping them break down the barriers to education or entering the workforce. In the Illawarra and Southern Highlands, Access Community Group has served over 350 young people in the program, with 223 reported to have successfully re-engaged in education or employment.   

One of these kids was Jeremy, who was referred to Youth Connections for not attending school for almost two years because of family breakdown and bullying by classmates. Jeremy had a long history of running away and used drugs and alcohol to cope. He engaged in criminal behaviour to get basic items like food and clothing. But after getting one-on-one attention and support from his Youth Connections case manager, Jeremy was supported to enrol in Wollongong Flexible Learning Centre to complete his studies.

Ongoing contact shows that he is attending regularly and doing well, with a goal of going to TAFE to study hospitality and become a chef, like his dad.

The former Labor government funded Youth Connections to run until December next year. However, there is no commitment at this stage from the coalition government to re-fund Youth Connections—a shame considering the hard work and fantastic results the program is achieving in communities across Australia. I strongly encourage the government to continue funding the program to deliver real assistance for kids like Jeremy.