Ms MIKAKOS (Minister for Youth Affairs) (09:49:12) — I rise today to update the house on the valuable work the Young Pasifika program has been doing to give young Pacific Islanders targeted support and more opportunities to connect with their community. Young Pacific Islanders can face a number of challenges, including disengagement from school, taking drugs or alcohol, or discrimination.
In 2017 we invested $600 000 in the Young Pasifika program to fund experienced youth outreach workers to work directly with young Pacific Islanders in the Casey and Wyndham areas to help them reconnect to school, jobs and training. Since then the program, known as Le Mana, meaning ’empower’, which is run by the Centre for Multicultural Youth, has engaged over 2000 young Pacific Islander Victorians. Young people across 13 schools in the Casey and Wyndham areas are being supported through the program, which is engaging them with school and providing a culturally tailored program in which the students can explore their cultural identity and discuss challenges they face at home and at school.
Our government has invested a further $475 000 through funding in this year’s budget to expand this program to two new sites in Brimbank and Dandenong, supporting more young Pacific Islanders. The additional funding will see the expansion of the delivery of individual casework, two further youth workers and the introduction of new dedicated programs for young women. We are making this investment because our government believes every young person should have the opportunities and support they need to reach their full potential, including those young people who face levels of disadvantage.
Our new programs in youth affairs are aimed at supporting young people to be their best, and we are providing them with supports through trained youth workers. I make the point also that our government has made some recent announcements around access to free TAFE for youth workers, which will increase the number of trained and skilled youth workers in our state.
Programs like Empower Youth, Young Pasifika, our new community support groups and the Morwell youth space all focus on providing young people with quality support from youth workers to engage and strengthen their connections to community and help them to be their best. From our investment in these various programs, over 35 new youth work positions have been created. We are making significant investments that aim to get more youth workers on the ground to support young people, particularly to make sure that they can access employment and training opportunities after the cuts by the previous government.