Cuts a major loss, youth worker says

The federal government's decision to end Youth Connections at the end of this year will be a major loss to the region, says youth worker Steve Curry.

The federal government announced Youth Connections funding cuts in its budget earlier this month.

Mr Curry works for Central Victoria Group Training, an agency that administers Youth Connections programs in the Loddon Buloke region.

"In the end there's going to be quite a hole left behind," Mr Curry said.

Mr Curry said youth in rural and regional areas were not on an even playing field when it came to options for their future.

He said Youth Connections had been welcomed by the youth support sector four years ago because it allowed youth services agencies to use the money to design what they thought their local youth needed.

Mr Curry said the program had allowed for innovative programs to develop in the Loddon Buloke region.

He said programs involved strengthening young people's leadership skills and ability to trust others.

Mr Curry said the services were available to young people who were not engaged at school, often missing school, or not attending at all.

He said Youth Connections services helped liaise between schools and families to encourage children to complete high school.

"It's a big service to a vulnerable group of young people and families."

Mr Curry's colleague, Lois Harris, said Youth Connections was one of the only programs working with disengaged young people in the region.

Last week St Luke's Anglicare announced its Youth Connections program, which services the City of Greater Bendigo, Mount Alexander and Central Goldfields shires,  would cease in December.

Bishop Andrew Curnow said the organisation would have to cut staff as a result.

"We were trying to help some of the most disadvantaged young people in central Victoria," he said.

"It's very intense work to achieve and we're doing things that schools even struggle to fulfil and I think the whole education community across central Victoria will be feeling this."

St Luke's Anglicare had been part of a coalition of welfare agencies lobbying the federal government to keep Youth Connections.


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