Jul 22, 2004

Labor commits to special youth initiative for Illawarra


Joint Media Release:
Anthony Albanese MP – Shadow Minister for Employment Services & Training
Jennie George MP – Labor Member for Throsby
Sharon Bird – Labor Candidate for Cunningham

22 July 2004

Young jobseekers in Wollongong and the Illawarra will receive a new, highly intensive form of assistance if a Latham Labor Government is elected later this year. This assistance will be delivered through a program called Link-Up utilising the expertise of Job Network providers.

Anthony Albanese, Shadow Minister for Employment Services and Training, announced this local commitment with Federal Labor Member for Throsby Jennie George and Labor Candidate for Cunningham, Sharon Bird today.

“This localised commitment from Federal Labor follows strong representations from both Jennie George and Sharon Bird, who have been extremely concerned about the very high rate of teenage unemployment in the region,” Mr Albanese said.

“Since the last Federal election the teenage unemployment rate in the Illawarra has risen from 20.6% to 30% – a massive 45% increase in less than three years. It now has one of the highest teenage unemployment rates in the country.”

Link-Up will start in January 2005 in regions suffering from high rates of teenage unemployment. Along with the Illawarra, Labor has already announced that the suburbs of northern Adelaide, south east Melbourne, northern Tasmania, the Hunter and Queensland’s Wide Bay will also benefit from Link-Up. Link-Up is a $49.4 million investment in these communities.

Link-Up will deliver intensive, job-focused assistance to young jobseekers aged 15 to 18 from the moment they start receiving unemployment benefits. Currently many young jobseekers have to be out of work for at least 12 months before they can access such assistance.

Ms George said “The high rate of youth unemployment here in Wollongong and the Illawarra is unacceptable. Link-Up is all about early intervention, so that today’s early school leavers don’t become tomorrow’s long term unemployed.”

Link-Up is a key element of Labor’s $700 million Youth Guarantee: Learn or Earn policy, announced by Mark Latham during his Budget Reply. Each year the potential of 45,000 young people who leave school early and don’t go on to full time work or study is lost. Labor’s Youth Guarantee will fix this situation by:

• Abolishing TAFE fees for secondary school students;

• Providing 7,500 additional apprenticeships;

• Creating 7,500 additional TAFE places;

• Establishing a new Jobs Gateway: wage and training subsidies for 10,000 early school leavers.

“Labor’s Youth Guarantee will deliver new hope and opportunities to 13,000 disadvantaged young people. It will also ensure that local employers can get the skilled workers they need to expand their businesses. A Latham Labor Government will invest in the talents and potential of young people in our district and across Australia,” Ms Bird said.