Thursday, 29 October 2020
I rise today to update the House on the Morrison government's investment in young people in my electorate of Robertson. This includes programs focused on getting our young workers into jobs and ensuring they've got the skills for the future. The opening of an industry training hub in Gosford will provide new opportunities for senior secondary school students to develop skills and learn about local in-demand occupations. The facility is one of 10 around the country that were announced as part of the government's $585 million Delivering Skills for Today and Tomorrow package that is designed to strengthen the vocational education and skills sector. Each training hub is managed by a full-time career facilitator providing an on-the-ground presence and aiming to improve opportunities for young people, including students in years 11 and 12. Career facilitators will work with and encourage young people to build skills towards employment, creating better relationships and connections between schools and local industry and repositioning vocational education and training as a first-choice option for our students as they leave school.
This vital project is well underway, with the Morrison government releasing a request for tender for the Gosford hub. Kim McLoughry, CEO of Regional Youth Support Services on the Central Coast, said that this hub is a great idea for our region and she was glad to see that the project is industry based and future focussed. Kim said that it was increasingly important to support young people to navigate the jobs market and get the qualifications they need not only for now but also in five and 10 years time.
Tony Mylan, CEO of ET Australia, which is a training organisation and independent years seven to 10 secondary college, said that the industry training hub addresses an important gap in the current system and he especially appreciated its location in Gosford. He said that the hub will act as a facilitator between employers, industry, schools, higher educators and individual students to ensure our young people can explore all options available to them when they leave school.
Through the Delivering Skills for Today and Tomorrow package the Morrison government has also opened round 3of the Commonwealth Scholarships Program for Young Australians. This initiative ensures more young people can get industry based workplace learning and gain qualifications in growth industries across 10 select regions, including the Central Coast. Young people in our region can now apply for up to $5,000 a year to study a qualification and an additional $3,000 to complete an internship. Applications are sought from individuals who are not in full-time work and are aged between 15 and 24 years or those who have left the Australian Defence Force in the past two years. These scholarships work hand in hand with the industry training hubs to help alleviate the financial pressures of education and training while also connecting young people to training pathways and real jobs.
We know that young people are some of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. That's why the Morrison government's 2020-21 federal budget includes targeted measures that get young people back into jobs. These measures include the $4 billion JobMaker hiring credit, which will give local businesses incentives to take on additional young jobseekers as the economy recovers. The JobMaker hiring credit will be available for up to 12 months and immediately available to employers who hire those on JobSeeker aged 16-35. This credit supports Australia's economic recovery by bringing forward the hiring decisions of our local businesses so young people can get back into employment as soon as possible. It will be paid at the rate of $200 per week for those aged under 30 and $100 per week for those aged between 30 and 35. Treasury estimates that over the next three years the measure will support the employment of approximately 450,000 people aged 35 and younger. In addition, the government is extending and expanding the supporting apprentices and trainees wage subsidy to include medium-sized businesses who had an apprentice in place on 1 July 2020, which means support for electricians, carpenters, plumbers, and other trades to bring on more apprentices and really represents a great opportunity for young people on the Central Coast.
Having a job means more than earning an income—it means economic security, it means independence, it means opportunity. This government is committed to ensuring young Australians can upskill and reskill to secure a job, and we have a strong plan to address youth unemployment. We're doing this by creating jobs and promoting investment and growth in regional Australia and by putting in place the right policy framework to facilitate stronger jobs growth. This will assist Australians to take advantage of the job opportunities of tomorrow, particularly for young people in my electorate of Robertson.
[by video link] Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, it is good to see you, virtually, and to be here today. It's even good to see the member for Scullin! I'll give you a virtual wave. I'm speaking, in these rather unprecedented times, from Cranbourne West, rather than directly, because of the pandemic.
From the outset, I wanted to talk, in particular, to the people that I represent here in Holt, and to thank them for the work they have done by abiding by COVID-safe restrictions and the requirements that have been, we know, onerous for some period of time. We had a situation here in the City of Casey—a large part of which is in Holt— where at the height of the second wave we had 357 active cases. Today we have one. I think that says a great deal of the perseverance, tenacity, sacrifice, and commitment of Victorians and people in the south-eastern region of Melbourne. It is an achievement—given that at the height of the second wave in Victoria we had 7,880 active cases, and we're down to 87 or less today—that all Australians, not just Victorians, should be proud of.
It is clear to me that now we have successfully seen off this second wave we must focus on rebuilding and the economic recovery. That is quite essential. Certainly, in that vein, we would encourage Melburnians and Victorians, particularly when the 25-kilometre travel restriction is removed, to come down to some of the attractions in Holt, which include the world-renowned Cranbourne botanical gardens, see the animals in the just reopened Moonlit Sanctuary, and discover great towns like Warneet and Tooradin. Just come down here and take in the wonders of Western Port Bay, particularly in the summer holiday period.
I also wanted to talk about this pandemic, the first wave and the second wave, and re-emphasise the call I made earlier this year for the establishment of an Australian centre for disease control and prevention. Yes, we have seen off the second wave of this pandemic. But, according to organisations like the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, there's an estimated 1.7 million viruses that are a potential threat to humans that are within the existing populations of mammals and birds. So there is a prediction—from the very same people who predicted five to ten years ago that there could be a global pandemic—that there may well be another one. That's not something that we want to think about as we collectively come together in this parliament to celebrate the achievements of Australians and Victorians in seeing off the second wave, but forearmed is forewarned and forewarned is forearmed. We do need a consistent mechanism—one mechanism that governs all of Australia, and I think that, should a centre for disease prevention be established, it could see off some of the inconsistencies that we've seen in some of the health advice that's been provided. But that shouldn't take away from the amazing achievement that the population here in Victoria are rightly celebrating over the past couple of days, as we've eased out of those stage 4 restrictions.
I also wanted to talk about something a number of others have spoken about: mental health. On 13 August I hosted a Zoom mental health and wellbeing forum for local residents. We had over 70 people participating. It that was auspiced and hosted by Professor Pat McGorry, as well as Dean McCaughan, who's the headspace Narre Warren manager; Jemma Schmutter; and also a very passionate youth advocate, Jake Downward. What came from this mental health forum—notwithstanding the additional federal government and state government funding that has been put into mental services—is that, as a consequence of the pandemic, we need to do a lot more in a coordinated way.
We have looked at the concept of one integrated hub in each region. It's something that I'd know that Professor McGorry has spoken about with Prime Minister Morrison, and it is something that I am calling for today—not something that takes over or takes away from state government mental health services, but something that assists and is an addendum to, something that adds weight to, services. Again, congratulations to all Victorians for the sacrifices they have made in seeing off the second wave. Thanks for the opportunity to speak and see you, Mr Speaker.