Launch of Empowering YOUth Initiatives

  • Minister for Employment
  • Minister for Women
  • Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service
  • Senator for Western Australia


Media Conference – HeadSpace, Dandenong

Subjects: Launch of the Empowering YOUth initiative, youth mental health, Tony Abbott, ABCC, Defence White Paper leak, Michael Lawler.

MINISTER CASH: I am here with Kathleen from Headspace Dandenong and of course my very good friend and our outstanding candidate for the seat of Bruce for the upcoming federal election, Helen Kroger. I am delighted to be here today to announce the first round of the Australian Government’s Empowering YOUth Initiatives. This is a $50 million initiative as part of our broader $331 million youth employment strategy. It is unacceptable that there still remains a 12.7 per cent youth unemployment rate across Australia. The Australian Government is completely aware that we need to tackle the issue of youth unemployment head on and that is exactly what we are doing.

The Empowering YOUth Initiative is all about being innovative. It’s all about working with organisations, such as Headspace, to think outside the box and ensure that we are properly targeting youth who are at risk of being long-term unemployed. Headspace obviously has a fantastic reputation in terms of working across Australia with youth, but in particular in this case, with youth who are at risk of long-term unemployment in particular because of mental health issues. So I’m going to ask Kathleen now to make a few comments in relation to the success of Headspace as one of our organisations under the Empowering YOUth Initiative and in particular tell us a little more about what Headspace will now be doing.

KATHLEEN (HEADSPACE): Thank you Minister. We’d really like to congratulate the Government for bringing this initiative forward. It’s really such an important initiative for young people who vulnerable or at risk of falling out of employment or not being able to actually engage with employment and to have this opportunity to provide an innovative way of facilitating earlier help seeking with services that can actually facilitate that fast track into employment and study, is just a terrific initiative to be a part of.

Headspace is all about making it as easy as possible for young people who are going through a hard time to get access to support as quickly and as easily as possible. So this initiative fits so incredibly neatly with the platform of Headspace and also being able to provide young people with a holistic range of supports in terms of supporting them in their mental health as well as their vocational needs. And we know that employment and access to being part of study is such an important part of general health and wellbeing. So we’re really welcoming  <inaudible>.

MINISTER CASH: Thank you Kathleen, and Helen Kroger our fantastic candidate for the seat of Bruce.

HELEN KROGER: Thank you. And can I thank you for coming here to make this announcement today because youth unemployment is something that is very close to our heart. We need to do what we can so that the young people in this area are reconnected in the community and it is good for me in two ways because Headspace is actually one of my favourite programmes that we launched under the former Coalition Government. And Headspace has been such an effective programme in reconnecting young people and giving them opportunities and support to get back into the workforce.

So putting the two programmes together in Dandenong is sensational. I’m delighted. This is going to create more jobs for young people in Dandenong. At the end of the day it’s actually the rubber on the road that makes the difference and this is the rubber on the road and I’m delighted that we are going to see more young people employed here today so I thank the Minister for coming.

MINISTER CASH: Thanks Helen, thanks Kathleen. Any questions?

QUESTION: Just on mental health issues,are mental health issues one of the big reasons why a certain number of young people sort of, maybe, fall through the cracks and can’t find a job or …is that a contributing factor? 

KATHLEEN (HEADSPACE): It absolutely is. We do see a lot of young people that come through Headspace centres and our online programme eHeadspace are not in employment or education, and so it is absolutely a very strong contributing factor to not getting a job.

MINISTER CASH: What is also so exciting about this particular initiative, the Empowering YOUth initiative, is that the Government, we had an open tender process, highly competitive, but we wanted organisations to give us programmes that were completely innovative, completely different, because we acknowledge that when it comes in particular to youth unemployment, one size does not fit all. Headspace does some amazing work, in particular utilising technology, and much of what Headspace is going to be doing in delivering this programme, utilises the technological platforms to get to as many young people across Australia as they can.  So this programme in particular I think is instrumental because it is innovative, it is new, but it is working with proven organisations, on the ground, who already have a track record, in getting youth ready for jobs.  

QUESTION: Just on a couple of other matters, so why has the Government decided to delay its debate on re-establishing the ABCC until the May…just a week before the May Budget?

MINISTER CASH: The ABCC is still listed as you know on the Notice Paper; it’s just not listed for debate on the 15th, 16th and 17th of March. We’ve been very open about the fact that our priority at this stage is to get the legislation in relation to electoral reform through the Parliament. Because we don’t have a Monday sitting day on that week, the hours for Government business are limited, and as such, we believe it will take us the Tuesday, Wednesday Thursday to get the electoral reform legislation through the Parliament and that is our priority. However, it terms of our commitment to the ABCC I have continually said this is a fundamental priority for the Government. It remains on the Notice Paper as I would like to see it passed.

QUESTION: So then this isn’t a sign that the Government isn’t going to be using the legislation to trigger a double dissolution election?

MINISTER CASH:  As the Prime Minister has continually said there is an election this year. He expects it to be later on this year. But in any event, the Government already has a double dissolution trigger in relation to the Registered Organisations Commission legislation. I want to see the ABCC legislation succeed. Because I believe it is good policy and that is what I am working towards.

QUESTION: What’s the Government doing about Tony Abbott? Is he not causing some instability for the Government?

MINISTER CASH: Tony Abbott is part of our team. The wonderful thing about the Liberal party as opposed to the Labor party is that we encourage our members to have an opinion. You know, sometimes the opinion may get us a little bit of attention, but at the end of the day, we encourage people to have an opinion. and I think it was very sad when we saw in the Australian Senate this week, the resignation of one of Labor party’s senators, Senator Joe Bullock, because he is unable to express an opinion on gay marriage and as a result, he felt that he would resign from the Australian Labor Party. I would rather be a member of a parliamentary party that encourages me to express an opinion, rather than one that does not.

QUESTION: If the Government does get another leak like you did this week with the Defence White Paper, do you think that is going to damage your chances of re-election?

MINISTER CASH: In the first instance I would say it is an alleged leak and it would be inappropriate for me to comment any further on it, as it has been referred to the Australian Federal Police for investigation.

QUESTION: But if a politician was found to have been the source of that leak, should they reconsider their position…

MINISTER CASH: I am not going to speculate on a matter that is currently being looked at by the Australian Federal Police.

QUESTION: And will you consider denying Michael Lawler his pension after he handed in his resignation?

MINISTER CASH: That is a matter for the Minister for Finance.

Thank you very much.


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