Baillieu Cuts Youth Mentoring In Emerald

The Baillieu Government has failed to provide funding to a successful youth mentoring project in Emerald, Shadow Minister Assisting the Leader on Children and Young Adults, Jenny Mikakos said today.

Visiting the Emerald Centre for Hope and Outreach (ECHO) Centre, Ms Mikakos said the Baillieu Government had committed no further funding for youth mentoring after the end of this year.

“Beyond All Expectations Mentoring Project, run by ECHO, is one of 12 youth mentoring programs across Victoria that is losing its funding, despite its success helping vulnerable young people,” she said.

Ms Mikakos said local Liberal MP Brad Battin needed to stand up to Mr Baillieu and demand the project funding be extended.

“Why hasn’t Mr Battin asked Mr Baillieu to visit Emerald to meet with mentors and young people to explain why he is cutting their funding?” Ms Mikakos said.

“This program helps dozens of at-risk young people every year, but Mr Baillieu couldn’t find room in this year’s budget for the $50,000 a year needed to keep the program running.

“This project works off a shoestring budget, but has a high impact.”

According to ECHO Beyond all Expectations builds resilience, self awareness, accredited skills and knowledge in preparation for work and the world ‘beyond’ school by providing experiences in a real workplace environment.

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

“Without the targeted assistance from the youth mentoring program, Mr Baillieu is effectively saying to young people in Emerald ‘you are on your own’,” Ms Mikakos said.

“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 will lose their jobs or have their hours cut back.

“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 FReeZACentral, this cut comes as no surprise.”