Youth care may be in jeopardy

MTC clients from left, Oliana Uiliata, Codi Evans - McGrath, and Blake Ryan there for assistance in finding work and staying in school. The program will have to be cut due to funding cuts in the budget. Picture: Simon Bennett

MTC clients from left, Oliana Uiliata, Codi Evans - McGrath, and Blake Ryan there for assistance in finding work and staying in school. The program will have to be cut due to funding cuts in the budget. Picture: Simon Bennett

SHE was skipping school to avoid bullies, sleeping on friends' couches and involved in self-harm before Codi Evans-McGrath found a new path with the Youth Connections program at MTC Australia.

The 16-year-old Horsley Park resident has attended the Liverpool MTC centre's alternate learning facility for the past three months and said it had really turned things around for her.

"I'm getting a lot out of it and there's lots of support here for us too," Codi said.

But the program is in danger of losing its funding in 2015 if the proposed budget passes both houses of Parliament.

MTC Australia general manager of youth and community Martin Keil said that would jeopardise the positions of 40 staff members.

"Which could mean that we won't be able to deliver those services," Mr Keil said.

He said the Liverpool office, which caters for young people from around the south-west, helped 254 young people to stay in school or "enter further educational or employment pathways" in 2013.

"There are very few youth services left available that focus on young people that in effect fall through the cracks for various reasons, whether it be due to mental health problems or dysfunctional families.

"These young people disengage from school and the Youth Connections program is focused on helping them to engage with school again."

Codi, who has been in state care since she was three months old, said she was having trouble at school and had a bad experience with her foster placement.

"But Youth Connections has been really helpful. I'm studying my Certificate 1 and 2 and hope to do my Certificate 3 in childcare after that," she said. "If this program is cut I won't have anywhere else to go."

Mr Keil said the area's youth unemployment rate, at 15.9 per cent, is almost three times the national unemployment rate and showed the challenges young people in area faced.

Hughes MP Craig Kelly, a Liberal, said he wasn't sure about the specific effect the budget would have on the MTC program, but the government was looking after the young.

"I'm going to put a question on notice about how these cuts," he said.

"The best thing we can do for our young people is provide them with the opportunity to learn a trade and that's what the government's new youth apprenticeship training program will do."

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