Youth Connections

I spoke in parliament today about the Youth Connections program, delivered in the ACT by Anglicare, which faces the prospect of cuts this year.
Youth Connections, 3 March 2014

I rise today to applaud Youth Connections, a national youth education program which is delivered in my electorate by Anglicare and to urge the federal government to continue to fund it. At this stage it is uncertain whether there will be funds beyond this year for the Youth Connections youth education program to continue. Youth Connections is designed to keep young people engaged in high school. It offers a flexible service which keeps them in school and on the road to meaningful and decently-paid work.

Take the story of Alice. When Alice moved with her family to Canberra at the age of 12 she found it difficult to make friends at school. She was bullied severely and eventually stopped going to school. Suffering from depression, she started taking harmful drugs, ran away from home and fell pregnant. She found safe shelter in a refuge. Faced with the prospect of becoming a young mother, Alice sought help from Youth Connections. She joined the program, and they provided essential baby items, helped to transport her to medical appointments and—after the birth of her daughter—assisted with domestic violence issues and court proceedings.

Alice persevered and graduated with the Youth Connections program, and then enrolled in a Certificate IV in Youth Work. Evaluations show the program is successful and Alice's story helps to inspire young people.

Education matters, whether it is school, higher education or on-the-job training in a gap year—as with my intern for this week, Tom Russell-Penny, who is with me today. I urge the government to continue to fund Youth Connections—a program whose evaluations are strong and whose stories are powerful.

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8/1 Torrens Street, Braddon ACT 2612 | 02 6247 4396 | Andrew.Leigh.MP@aph.gov.au