Victorian Young Achiever Awards

Ministers Statement

Ms MIKAKOS (Minister for Youth Affairs) (09:46:02) — I rise to update the house on the outstanding achievements of young Victorians across the state and how the Andrews Labor government is continuing to support our youth. Last Friday night I had the pleasure as patron to present certificates to all of the semifinalists and finalists for the Victorian Young Achiever Awards 2018. The awards acknowledge and recognise the enormous achievements of young Victorians in fields as diverse as community service, small businesses, rural and regional health, arts and fashion, and education.

I want to congratulate the winner of the government-sponsored group achievement in the community award, Happy Brain Education Rowville, for their work providing educational, social and mentoring support to disadvantaged young people. I would also like to congratulate Dan Poole of Melbourne-founded Crepes for Change, a not-for-profit, youth-led social enterprise aimed at eliminating youth homelessness. Crepes for Change provide underprivileged young people with tangible skills and professional development opportunities and recently commenced a paid employment program enabling five vulnerable young people to complete 150 hours of paid employment and training. These are two examples of the incredible calibre of young people recognised at these awards, and I wish to congratulate each and every finalist. They are truly inspirational young people.

We all have a role to play to ensure young people get every opportunity to thrive, and our government recognises that many young people face disadvantage and have a range of diverse needs. This is why I was also pleased on the night to announce the opening of a $2 million Empower Youth grant round. This innovative program that we started two years ago has enabled a diverse range of community organisations to employ youth workers to support young people to support their goals. We know that some want to talk down our youth; however, it is important to remember that there are over a million young people in Victoria who are making positive contributions to our state every day. This is evident by the outstanding young people nominated and those who were finalists at the 2018 Victorian Young Achiever Awards. We do remain committed to continuing our support for our young people and our youth agencies across Victoria, recognising that young people are the future of our state.

The PRESIDENT — I am a little concerned about whether or not that was a new initiative in the sense that in that statement the minister indicated that it had been in place for two years. I do note the fresh funding, but I am a little bit concerned about simply a funding announcement.

Ms MIKAKOS — President, I can clarify that this is a program that we did initiate two years ago in the budget. There was $4 million two years ago, and we have provided a further $2 million in this year’s budget. This new initiative is not one that I have spoken about in a ministers statement previously, and I am advising the house that this funding is now available to youth organisations and councils across Victoria through this funding round that I opened on Friday. Therefore it is a new initiative.

The PRESIDENT — Well, it is not a new initiative, because it started two years ago. It does have some fresh funding, which is really what you are hanging a hat on.