Cuts create youth employment concern

Opposition education spokeswoman Kate Ellis with Mimi Tewo, Anteneh Adugnd, Heather Clarke and Camaron Middleton. Picture: Bruce Hunt d424121
Opposition education spokeswoman Kate Ellis with Mimi Tewo, Anteneh Adugnd, Heather Clarke and Camaron Middleton. Picture: Bruce Hunt d424121

Rise Network, in Middle Swan, is set to lose $800,000 in funding towards its Youth Connections Program at the end of the year, effectively slashing it in half.

Roving staff from the program visit students and youths from Bullsbrook to Parkerville to Swan View, but eight of them face losing their job in December if Youth Connections loses funding.

Youth Connections helps 185 local youths a year, 94.2 per cent of whom are still engaged in education or employment six months after exiting the Youth Connections Program.

One of those youths is Heather Clarke (19) of Forrestfield, who for four years was sleeping couch to couch, unemployed.

She left an abusive home when she was 15 and in between finding her next bed and attending high school, fell by the wayside.

But in recent months Ms Clarke has been in contact with Rise Network, which she says has put her back on track.

‘It’s excellent, I’m now living with my brother but they’ve got me into some housing in Perth, I’m back at school finishing Year 12, getting certificates and hopefully moving on to university,’ she said.

Ms Clark said she hoped to go to veterinary school and it would be a shame for others to miss the same opportunities as her due to funding.

‘The funding cuts are awful ” it’s really messing up the next generation I think,’ she said.

‘They’re leaving these people with nothing by cutting off their help and support ” not everyone grew up behind a white picket fence.’

Mrs Ellis was instrumental in putting the unemployment prevention services in place nearly five years ago and is visiting WA schools and employment providers and keeping pressure on the Government to maintain funding.

‘There is no question the Government will save a small amount of money in the short term by axing these programs, but we will pay a very big cost in terms of increased youth unemployment, increased youth homelessness and decreases in school completion in the longer period,’ she said.

Hasluck MP Ken Wyatt said the Youth Connections program would finish on December 31.

‘The previous government did not provide any further funding or budget allocation for the program to continue.

‘I am focussed on making sure young Australians are getting a hand up, not a hand out when it comes to finding and keeping employment,’ he said.