My adjournment matter this evening is for the Minister for Education, Mr Merlino, and relates to school attainment and retention rates in south western Victoria.
As the minister would be aware, the completion of secondary school has become more influential in determining the opportunities a young person will have available to them now and in the future. The level of an individual’s health, economic and general wellbeing outcomes is closely correlated with their education, particularly at secondary school level. In addition, graduation from secondary school, or its equivalent, has now become an important benchmark both in Australia and internationally and is required for further studies or participation in most areas of the labour force. For these reasons Australia, like a number of other countries, has set targets for secondary school attainment.
I bring to the attention of the minister the year 12 completion rates for students in south western Victoria, which is well below the state average. As stated in the Great South Coast Group’s Year 12 or Equivalent Attainment Project — 2013–14 Preparatory Phase report:
Our current generation of young people in the Great South Coast reflects poorer education, life skills levels and health than their peers across the state.
The report also states:
The number of our young people who are not making a successful transition to long term, full time employment is significant and compares unfavourably with other regions.
Last week I was in Hamilton, Portland, Port Fairy, Tower Hill, Warrnambool and Camperdown, where I met with all local government organisations and a range of community groups. Every single one of them raised this issue at meetings. It has become a matter of real urgency and an absolute priority for the region. In a recent Victorian Auditor General’s report into the support provided for students to complete secondary school it was found that during the whole of the previous coalition government, year 12 attainment rates across Victoria had not improved.
This is a cause for concern in the region. Much work has already been done, and I ask the minister to meet with the Great South Coast Year 12 or Equivalent Attainment working group in the near future to discuss and resolve this very important issue.