My adjournment matter this evening is also for the Minister for Education, Martin Dixon. It relates to the continuation of the Portland re-engagement program. This program is a flexible learning alternative currently being offered by Portland Secondary College, and it is for young people who are at risk of being disengaged from education. Currently 37 teenage students are enrolled in this program, and since its establishment more than 100 students have gone through the program, with 70 per cent of them returning to mainstream education, further education or employment, including apprenticeships.
I am sure that the minister does not need to be reminded of the benefits of as many students as possible attaining year 12 education or equivalent and the financial advantage it gives those individuals and what that means for employment and the wider community. It is particularly important to have these programs running at this time, given the crisis we are going through in terms of youth unemployment. In this part of my electorate youth unemployment is running at 17.5 per cent, and that puts the Premier’s own electorate of South-West Coast in the nation’s top 10 areas in terms of high youth unemployment rates, alongside troubled regions in parts of Tasmania and north Queensland.
The re-engagement program requires the provision of additional funding to the student resource package that is provided by the department. Concerns have been expressed not just from stakeholders in the education sector but also from the Shire of Glenelg shire, which has taken it upon itself to study the situation.
It has also taken it upon itself to write to all members of Parliament that represent that part of the state, including upper house members, asking us to advocate on its behalf and to call on the minister to ensure that this program is continued. At the moment it looks as if it will not be continued.
The community has rallied together, and it is making a contribution, but the business community and the local community in general cannot possibly run the program with the resources they have. We require 40 placements to be sponsored by the government, and I seek the minister’s support in providing that financial support.