My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Education, the Honourable Martin Dixon, and it relates to the Geelong Region Local Learning and Employment Network.
As the minister would be aware, Victoria is in the midst of a crisis due to youth employment crisis.
The fact is that Victoria now has the highest youth unemployment rate on mainland Australia, with sections of the state, such as the Premier’s own electorate of South-West Coast, being in the top 10 areas of high youth unemployment in the entire country.
It is difficult to find anyone in the state who is not concerned about these alarming figures, and quite rightly so.
Geelong Region Local Learning and Employment Network, or the Geelong LLEN, as it is known locally, does an excellent job in the Geelong community and has done so for many years now.
The Geelong LLEN is a partnership organisation that works in improving education, training and employment opportunities for the region’s young people who are between the ages of 10 and 19.
This organisation is an extremely well-run, highly beneficial and valuable part of the Geelong community, especially in the difficult times we are currently facing.
Under the Bracks and Brumby Labor governments the network thrived under a funding arrangement which saw 100 per cent of its funds derived from the state Labor government between 2001 and 2009.
In fact the Geelong LLEN did so well that the federal government saw fit to inject federal funding into the program as well, which was a real boost for the network.
However, the Geelong community is now extremely disappointed — but perhaps not surprised — to learn that the Abbott federal government has cut federal funding for the Geelong LLEN in its last budget.
Whilst the Napthine government is doing everything it can to distance itself from Tony Abbott and his draconian budget, it must also be noted that the Napthine government is fairly well versed in slashing funding for education and organisations like TAFEs that provide opportunities for young people.
What the Geelong community needs at this time is exactly what organisations like the Geelong LLEN provide, and what organisations like the Geelong LLEN need is government support that will give them the ongoing resources to provide these important services.
Whilst the minister seems to be at pains not to admit it publically, I am confident that he privately recognises Victoria has a real youth unemployment crisis.
I hope he also recognises that organisations like the Geelong LLEN are precious and do a lot in the community.
With this in mind, I seek a guarantee from the minister that the Geelong LLEN will be properly funded and supported into the future.