I rise to speak about a tremendous project in my electorate, the Northern Bay Guarantee. This is a two-year project aimed at enhancing the lives of young single mothers aged between 17 and 25 from the northern suburbs of Corio and Norlane in Geelong.
Each young mum receives personal development, career support and nationally accredited career training. This is a collective project between Viva Energy, which contributed $300 000, Northern Futures, Northern Bay College, The Gordon and Deakin University. Enterprise Geelong also contributed $30 000.
The results from year one are encouraging. Deakin University’s interim evaluation stated:
There is evidence that most participants in the program have undergone some transformation in their aspirations for future study and employment, and some clear changes in attitudes to work.
But it is not all good news. I am advised by constituents that the jobs, education and training child care fee assistance program was put in jeopardy in July. I do not have time to go through the details, but suffice to say the punitive approach to these young mums has rendered many of them ineligible for subsidised child care.
It beggars belief that the federal Abbott government thinks there is any benefit to society in making this hard for mums. The community certainly does not understand it.
We have a program aimed at people facing challenges with mental health, domestic violence, low literacy, and transport and accommodation issues, yet federal Minister for Social Services Scott Morrison thinks it is a good idea to make their lives harder.
I urge the Abbott government to reconsider these retrograde steps aimed at punishing a group of young people who are having a real go in life.