My adjournment matter this evening is for the Minister for Education, Martin Dixon, and it relates to the cuts to the Glenelg and Southern Grampians Local Learning and Employment Network. I am sure the minister is well-versed on the depth and breadth of our youth unemployment crisis, with Victoria’s youth unemployment skyrocketing to 17.5 per cent in the south-west. Victoria has the highest youth unemployment in mainland Australia. The devastating reality is that of the 257 000 unemployed young Australians, over 80 000 of them reside in Victoria. I have spoken ad nauseam about how we need to start combating these figures. I have also talked specifically about the value and impact of Victoria’s local learning and employment networks.
The people of Glenelg and Southern Grampians have benefited from the local learning and employment network program, otherwise known as LLEN. It was founded in 2002 under the Bracks Labor government, and the Glenelg and Southern Grampians Local Learning and Employment Network has done a lot of important work in broadening educational opportunities and employment pathways for young people.
Through the establishment of the School Business Community Partnership Brokers program, multiple organisational bodies have been working together to provide innovative responses to youth unemployment in the region, including education and training providers, businesses and industry groups, local councils, and parents and families.
For more than a decade now this program has had significant success in finding satisfying, long-term solutions to youth disengagement.
It should also be noted that the partnership brokers program has made vast improvements in the working relationships between the different sectors of the local economy, providing improved service delivery and reduction of duplication. Being a rural community, it goes without saying that our youth do not have access to the multitude of opportunities that are offered here in Melbourne.
The continuation of the program has been clouded by doubt and uncertainty, and the federal government has thus far refused to commit funding for the program beyond December. This would be another hit to Victoria’s young people from a Liberal government. The Abbott federal government’s budget has made education more expensive and employment harder to find, and of course this state government has already taken a knife to the TAFE system. I seek the minister’s assurance that the government will make a strong funding commitment to the partnership brokers program.
If this does not happen, it will mean that this LLEN, along with many others in this state, will be shut down before December this year.