Today I rise to speak on a vital issue in my electorate: the issue of youth unemployment. I would like to address the effect of youth unemployment on the community, and what this Government is doing to help young people find and stay in work. I’d also like to mention a local organisation in Bonner that is doing fantastic work with young locals to help boost their job prospects.

I’m pleased to say the latest figures show unemployment is continuing to fall and jobs growth is on the rise under this Coalition Government. Over 50,000 more young Australians have found jobs in the last 18 months. This is a great accomplishment. However, there’s more to be done to address the barriers young people face to employment.

I’ve heard many heartbreaking stories from young jobseekers and their parents about the mental strain of searching for work for months on end. I want to assure my constituents the Government is tackling this issue head on.

This year the Government expanded on its existing youth employment initiatives, such as the Transition to Work service and Empowering YOUth Initiatives programme, by introducing the $840 million Youth Employment Package. A central part of this package is the Youth Jobs PaTH (Prepare-Trial-Hire) programme.

Youth Jobs PaTH will give thousands of young Australians a chance to get real work experience and a real job, through pre-employment government-funded skills training, internships lasting 4 to 12 weeks, and a Youth Bonus Wage Subsidy up to $10,000 for employers.

This programme presents a great opportunity for local youth and local businesses when it launches in April 2017. It will help young people be better prepared for the workplace and encourage more businesses to hire them. I’ve been happy to hear from local businesses interested in Youth Jobs PaTH and I encourage more businesses in my electorate to register online to participate and host an intern.

I’m proud that local businesses and groups in Bonner have already rallied to help disadvantaged youth find work. BABI Youth and Family Service is one outstanding local organisation that for years has been giving young people training and employment opportunities.

Recently BABI’s general manager Michelle McNamara shared with me a promising new social enterprise project that will involve the whole community to help vulnerable and disadvantaged young people find work. The two-year program would see BABI team up with local businesses and RTOs to deliver valuable counselling, training and work experience for young locals.

The program will address the barriers young people face getting into employment, from mental health issues to lack of transport. I’m proud to support this project and look forward to seeing it get off the ground.

BABI has serviced the Bayside and Redlands area for over 30 years. I commend them for their outstanding work and I wish them the best in their future work helping young people where they need it most. The Government will continue to support local youth employment programs like those run by BABI. I look forward to seeing Youth Jobs PaTH begin next year and seeing more positive employment outcomes for young people in my electorate.

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