Despite youth unemployment continuing to be stubbornly high on the Central Coast, the Federal Budget has spelled the end for Youth Connections, with the program to close by the end of the year, and its students to be locked out of education, said Senator for NSW Deborah O’Neill.
“Tony Abbott’s philosophy to cut, cut, cut, is devastating for some of our most disengaged and in need young people here on the Coast,” said Senator O’Neill. “With Youth Connections closing, young people and the community will suffer.” Senator O’Neill has slammed the government for such a callous cut, saying it has deceived the Australian people by pretending to care about helping people move from welfare to work. “This is a short-sighted decision from a government that knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing.
“It’s yet another example of Tony Abbott’s twisted priorities,” Senator O’Neill said. Established in 2010, Youth Connections has seen more than 90,000 young people from across Australia, and hundreds of locals, access hands on skills training and educational opportunities to get back into work or school. “The mission of Youth Connections is to assist young people who are finding it difficult to cope with education, and who are not currently in training or employment, and they have been doing that job very well,” Senator O’Neill said.
For less than $80 million a year, Youth Connections supported over 67 organisations across 113 service regions right across the country and employed 750 specialist youth workers. “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. “Cutting these programs won’t be a saving at all. “It’s certainly not saving the kids from a life of disadvantage.
“It’s also costing the community in dollars and safety and we all pay a very heavy price when young people slip through the cracks and end up in juvenile justice or worse. “On top of the cuts to Youth Connections, Tony Abbott has put additional burden onto young people by restricting access to support payments, and made it more expensive to attend university. “In the budget, young job seekers will not be able to receive New Start for six months after applying, leaving young people invulnerable and precarious financial situations.
“From 2016, higher education providers will be able to set their own tuition fees, thereby making it harder for young people to access equitable university education. “At a time of rising youth unemployment, Liberal choices in the budget to cut these services are incredibly short-sighted and bad fo rour youth and community. “If the Abbott Government was serious about helping our young people into work, they wouldn’t cut their skills training, cut their support payments, or make it more expensive to attend university,” Senator O’Neill said.
13 May 2014
Richard Mehrtens, ofﬁce
of Senator O’Neill