THE Youth Affairs Council of WA’s (YACWA) recently released pre-budget submission aims to improve outcomes for young people.
The report made 35 recommendations in 20 key areas, including youth incarceration, employment, Out of Home Care, mental health, homelessness and education, and will be presented to the State Government.
YACWA chief executive Ross Wortham said WA’s high unemployment rate was one of the biggest concerns for many young people.
“The unemployment statistics released show WA now has the highest unemployment rate in the nation at 6.5 per cent, and the rate for people aged 15 to 24 is almost double that,” he said.
“These statistics are making some young people feel pessimistic about their futures.
“Earlier this year, we surveyed almost a thousand young people, and over 45 per cent said they were not confident of finding a job in their chosen field.”
He said the survey also revealed 85 per cent of young people found it difficult to find a job, with three quarters saying getting an interview was challenging, while half said lack of experience was a problem.
Mr Wortham said the pre-budget submission also made recommendations relating to WA’s Out of Home Care system.
“When they turn 18, they no longer have any support, and 16 per cent of young people have no leaving care plan in place,” he said.
“These young people are at a much higher risk of unemployment, homelessness, mental illness and lack of access to education.”
Mr Wortham said 53 per cent of children in Out of Home Care were Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders, despite them making up only a fraction of the overall population.
“Young Aboriginal people are still being removed from their families, when we believe more can be done to work with the families to improve their home environment instead,” he said.
Some of the submission’s recommendations included
– Extend the Out of Home Care age from 18 to 21 years in some cases
– Design and trial a transitional support service for young people leaving state care who have complex needs
– Develop a youth homelessness services plan that maps current services and future need
– Fund the Earlier Intervention and Family Support strategy to reduce removal rates of Aboriginal children
– Fund acute mental health beds in all regions by 2018
Youth Affairs Council of WA chief executive Ross Wortham.