GOVERNMENT PREPARING TO CUT YOUTH SERVICES

11 April 2014

Education Ministers from across the country will be in Canberra today for the Standing Council on School Education and Early Childhood (SCSEEC) meeting - the last opportunity before the Budget for the Abbott Government to continue funding for vital services that help young Australians complete year 12 and get jobs.

The Federal Government is responsible for delivering three programs for young Australians - Youth Connections, Partnership Brokers and National Career Development - and all 3 look set to be cut in this year's budget.

"Rather than celebrating National Youth Week, the Abbott Government is preparing to cut youth programs altogether," Shadow Minister for Education, Kate Ellis, said.

"These programs help young Aussies finish year 12 and get a job."

"The Abbott Government is trying to be sneaky and underhanded - but the truth is emerging".

This week, the Partnership Brokers National Network revealed the Government told it 'categorically' that funding would not be continued. While Jobs Australia has written to members saying the Parliamentary Secretary responsible, Scott Ryan, indicated 'Youth Connections is the sort of programme that's nice to do when you can afford it'.

"Youth Connections and Partnership Brokers are incredibly successful programs - it will cost us a lot more in unemployment benefits, crime and social services if Tony Abbott cuts these services," Kate Ellis said.

Partnership Brokers work with 22 of the top 50 ASX companies and have brokered over 1,800 agreements between schools, employers and charities to make sure young Australians at risk of long term unemployment move into work, education, training or work experience - rather than joining the dole queue.

The Youth Connections Destination Study released just this week shows that over 80 per cent of participants are in work or study 18 months after finishing the program. An incredible outcome for a program that targets some of the most disengaged and vulnerable young Australians. Almost 100,000 people have benefited from Youth Connections so far.

"The average cost per participant in Youth Connections is just $2,750; less than a quarter of the cost to government of the average high school student," Kate Ellis said.

"Cutting these programs wouldn't be a saving at all - we all pay a very heavy price when young people slip through the cracks."

"The research is clear: completing year 12 reduces the risk of unemployment and leads to higher earnings."

If the Abbott Government does not back down from cutting these services at today's SCSEEC meeting, there will likely be an increase in crime and mounting costs for state governments, as at-risk young Australians are left with nowhere to go.

"At a time of rising youth unemployment, cutting these services would be incredibly short-sighted," Kate Ellis said.

Tony Abbott needs to provide at least $128 million in this year's budget to prevent Youth Connections, Partnership Brokers and National Career Development services from closing across the country in 2015.

"Services across the country are in panic - the Government needs to rule these cuts out immediately," Kate Ellis said.

National Career Development funding supports vital links between industry, students and training options, as well as local projects to assist growing industries to attract new workers.

A petition against these cuts can be signed at: www.alp.org.au/youthconnections

FRIDAY, 11 APRIL 2014