Posted on 16. May, 2013 in News

campaign by local communities and the State Opposition to save the highly regarded School Focused Youth Service (SFYS) from closure appears to have been successful with Premier Napthine now saying the program will continue, Parliamentary Secretary for Education, Colin Brooks said today.

Mr Brooks said that SFYS providers had previously been informed by the Napthine Government they would not be funded past June this year despite the crucial role they play in preventing outcomes like youth disengagement, youth homelessness, substance abuse and youth suicide.

“Around 50,000 Victorian students from government, catholic and independent schools had taken part in SFYS projects last year,” Mr Brooks said.

“Without the lobbying and campaigning from both providers and the community Denis Napthine would have swept this service out the door like other educational programs his government has cut since taking office.”

The School Focused Youth Service’s $7.6 million operating costs are funded through the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.

The service provides invaluable support to young people by facilitating partnerships between schools and community service organisations at local levels in order to identify service gaps for vulnerable children and young people in the areas of educational development, health and wellbeing.

Mr Brooks said that Education Minister Martin Dixon appeared to have been rolled last week by the Premier and told to reverse his decision to axe this program.

“Thankfully, Victoria’s bumbling Education Minister has had to perform a backflip and abandon his cold-hearted cut to the School Focused Youth Service,” Mr Brooks said.

“Sadly, the Napthine Government’s earlier decision to wind up the program means that nearly half the SFYS coordinators have left the service to take other employment. There will also be virtually no funded School Focused Youth Service planned projects across the state for months because the program was being wound down.

“While this last minute backflip is welcomed, the government should take full responsibility for the damage it has done to the service.

“The government’s own actions have seen half the specialised and committed workforce in this sector lost, impacting directly on the education development of the programs participants.

“The wellbeing of Victoria’s young people in learning and development should not be the victim of the Napthine Government’s budget bottom line,” Mr Brooks said.

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