Youth advocate says budget doesn't deliver for young people

GIVE YOUTH A GO: Illawarra Legal Centre youth law advocate Georgina Pike said the Federal budget doesn't do enough to create real opportunities for young people. Picture: Georgia Matts
GIVE YOUTH A GO: Illawarra Legal Centre youth law advocate Georgina Pike said the Federal budget doesn't do enough to create real opportunities for young people. Picture: Georgia Matts

Youth employment initiatives announced in the Federal budget will not significantly improve the future job prospects for young people.

That’s the view of Illawarra Legal Centre youth law advocate Georgina Pike, who said the budget fails to meet the real needs of young people.

“There’s no real investment in creating real jobs and future opportunities for young people,’’ Ms Pike said.

“This point is reinforced by the fact money is being taken out of the TAFE system. Young people need that long term investment for their future and this doesn’t create those sorts of new opportunities they need.’’

Federal treasurer Scott Morrison delivered the budget on Tuesday, May 2. Four days later Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull officially locked in July 2 for a double dissolution election.

Much reference on budget night was made to the federal government’s latest youth employment initiative, Youth Jobs: Prepare, Train, Hire (PaTH).

This initiative offers young people an additional $200 per fortnight on their Youth or Newstart Allowance in exchange for 15-25 hours of work per week in an ‘internship’ with a local employer.

Ms Pike said this scheme was an improvement on the Work for the Dole program but didn’t go far enough in terms of really funding education and future work opportunities for young people.

She added young people could be exploited under the PaTH scheme.

“A scheme that compensates employees but pays young workers as little as $4 per hour, is clearly open to exploitation. If the jobs are there, young people deserve a fair wage for them,’’ Ms Pike said.

If the jobs are there, young people deserve a fair wage for them.

Georgina Pike

Budget cuts of 75 per cent to specialist youth mental health programs, and $115 million to be cut from homelessness services also didn’t help. She added the Government was selling PaTH as an innovative solution to youth unemployment but they were reducing funds in other areas that will likely affect a young person’s ability to secure and keep a job.

“More funding needs to be directed towards apprenticeships and traineeships,’’ Ms Pike said. “Cuts to TAFE must be restored. Young people need real training and jobs, not short-term solutions. This budget is a missed opportunity to ensure young people have access to quality education and training, affordable housing, a job paid at a living wage and free legal services.’’