Fears for youth program

Youth Futures chief executive Mark Waite said the organisation had run the Youth Connections program in Clarkson since 2010.

It works with schools to identify teenagers at risk of leaving education, those already showing signs of truancy, or those who had disengaged completely.

‘We work with over 50 schools in the northern corridor and about 70 children a year,’ Mr Waite said.

The best place to spend money was on prevention and intervention, or problems such as youth unemployment would get bigger in the long run.

‘The ramifications of not continuing this program are huge, particularly when it services young people who need to get back into education and training,’ he said.

‘It needs support from both sides of government.’

Federal Opposition education spokeswoman Kate Ellis visited the Clarkson Youth Centre on March 26 where she heard from students and staff about their fears for the program.

She said WA received more than $8 million a year for the Youth Connections program and since it started in 2010, it had an 80 per cent success rate.

‘We need to make sure it’s included in the federal budget,’ she said.

The Education Minister’s parliamentary secretary Senator Scott Ryan said any funding would be considered as part of the 2014 Federal Budget, but under Labor Youth Connections was to expire at the end of this year.

‘The previous Labor Government did not provide a funding or budget allocation for the program beyond 2014,’ he said.

‘The Coalition knows the importance of young people’s access to employment opportunities and will ensure the next round of Jobs Services Australia, to start in 2015, will address the needs of young Australians seeking work,’ he said.