Posted on 21. Sep, 2011 in News

The Baillieu Government is ignoring young Victorians by failing to fund successful youth mentoring programs, Shadow Minister Assisting the Leader on Children and Young Adults, Jenny Mikakos said today.

Ms Mikakos said the Baillieu Government was ready to let funding for the Mentoring and Capacity Building Initiative disappear at the end of the year.

“There are 12 youth mentoring programs across Victoria that encourage teenagers and young adults to re-engage with study or employment by pairing them with adults in their chosen field,” she said.

“This is a low cost program that has a high impact. It helps hundreds of at-risk young Victorians every year, but Mr Baillieu couldn’t find room for it in this year’s budget.”

The Mentoring and Capacity Building Initiative program was started by Labor in 2005 to help address disadvantage and make Victoria a fairer state.

“The program targets young people who are at risk of dropping out of their studies and who have become disengaged from employment and training,” she said.

“Without the targeted assistance from the youth mentoring program, Mr Baillieu is effectively saying to these young people ‘you are on your own’.

“Given how successful this initiative is and how little it costs, it beggars belief that Mr Baillieu won’t support it.”

Ms Mikakos said the Baillieu Government’s silence on the program’s future was making many centres and mentors nervous.

“If Mr Baillieu lets this program disappear, not only will hundreds of young Victorians be affected, but dozens of volunteer mentors will be lost and support staff across the state will lose their jobs or have their hours cut back,” she said.

“Given Mr Baillieu’s refusal to support other programs that assist young people such as the Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning (VCAL), Take-a-Break, Kids Go For Your Life and Freeza Central, this cut will come as no surprise.

“Mr Baillieu needs to come out and meet some of the vibrant young Victorians who have had their lives turned around thanks to a dedicated mentor.

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