Mission Australia is calling on the Government to support the long-term aspirations of Australia’s young people in next week’s budget.

Catherine Yeomans, Mission Australia’s CEO said a generation of young people risked being permanently left behind if extra funding to support further training and mentoring wasn’t included in next week’s budget.

It comes as Mission Australia release their latest report Achieving Independence: Insights and concerns from young clients accessing Mission Australia services which explores the results of the Youth Survey from the exclusive perspective of 1,062 of Mission Australia’s young clients. It includes a cross section of young people who are accessing their employment, education, homelessness and drug and alcohol services.

Ms Yeomans said,

Pleasingly the report shows that our young clients - who’ve often had challenging starts in life - share many of the same aspirations as their more advantaged peers. In fact, despite what some politicians would have us believe, they actually place a greater emphasis on getting a job than other young people surveyed.

“But with youth unemployment remaining at alarmingly high rates, we know young people are struggling to make a successful transition from school to training and work. Our clients are not only dealing with the usual challenges of growing up, but face additional barriers such as family breakdown, domestic and family violence, homelessness and mental health issues so they need even greater support to help them on their journey.

“Sadly we have seen funding slashed and some very successful programs defunded entirely. The implications of such short-sighted measures is catastrophic – not just for our clients but for society as a whole due to the wasted potential. These young people desperately want to contribute to society and succeed in their lives. They just need some early support to set them on the right track to the jobs they know are critical to their future.”

Mission Australia has called for Treasurer Scott Morrison to support the most disadvantaged young job seekers in this year’s budget and help them get a foothold in the job market through training, mentoring and workplace opportunities.

This includes extending or supplementing the new Transition to Work program as a starting point. There needs to be a holistic support program to cater for job seekers with the most severe barriers to employment.

These challenges are not insurmountable and it is the role of government as well as the social sector and businesses to support them on their journey to independence.

“By investing early we can support young people’s aspirations while at the same time diverting young people away from long term welfare dependency,” Ms Yeomans added.

Successful mentoring programs such as Indigenous Youth and Careers Pathway (IYCP) Program should be re-funded and used as a model to mentor other groups of young people requiring support and advice to navigate post school pathways.

Expanded training and apprenticeship opportunities are required to ensure that young people can navigate an appropriate post-school pathway that is relevant to their career aspirations. Vocational training options also need to reflect growth industries and sectors in demand, such as aged care and early childhood education, and not be limited to traditional roles.

Ms Yeomans said: “We know these programs can help vulnerable young people straddle the additional hurdles they face in an already difficult job market.

“We can change their paths but slashing budgets and cutting programs that work is not smart. We need a budget that is fair and not at the expense of vulnerable young Australians.”.

  The full report and recommendations can be found here.

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