MS TIERNEY (Western Victoria—Minister for Training and Skills, Minister for Higher Education) (11:47): Last week I announced that the expansion of the Skills First Reconnect program was about to take place. It provides tailored, one-on-one support for Victorians who want to study at TAFE or a Learn Local but face challenges that make it more difficult for them to enter training. Through Reconnect, Victorians who need extra help get additional support to set goals and develop a success plan, enrol in the course of choice, complete their studies, gain work experience and move into a job. When Labor introduced this program we targeted it at early school leavers, long-term unemployed Victorians, asylum seekers and those on youth justice orders. Our focus remains on Victorians who most need that extra support, and that is why we are expanding the eligibility to those Victorians who have lost work as a result of bushfires and COVID-19, and importantly we are investing $47 million to extend Reconnect for a further four years.
Skills First Reconnect absolutely changes lives, and I want to share the story of Tiana. Tiana is a 28-year-old woman in Geelong who joined Reconnect through her local Learn Local, Diversitat, in 2019. She left school at 15 as a young mum. She had been working in hospitality since the age of 12 and wanted a career change. Reconnect helped her figure out what she wanted to do, linking her to a certificate II in skills for work and vocational pathways. From there Tiana was supported through Reconnect to start a business administration traineeship with the Transport Accident Commission, which she started in late 2019. This is what Reconnect is all about, and this government is so proud that more Victorians will benefit from this expansion