When the Shoalhaven-Illawarra youth unemployment rate crept dangerously high to 29 per cent in mid-2018, Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis wanted swift action.
On Thursday, she was pleased to announce 94 young jobseekers in Milton-Ulladulla will have access to a program designed to connect them with local businesses.
Participants will undertake three hours of paid employment every week through two in-house work experience opportunities that will involve planning and operating a pop-up cafe, working in an on-site garden and developing a local online directory.
Participants will also be paired with local retirees who will provide mentoring and valuable life experience and share their skills from working in the region.
Once training is finished, they will move on to paid employment rotations at four local businesses – one shift each week, for 12 weeks. While they work these shifts they will each have direct support from a mentor.
The Try Test and Learn program has been trialled successfully in other areas, and will be rolled out via the Dunn and Lewis Youth Development Foundation in Ulladulla.
“A lot of people say, ‘they don’t go to school, they’re deadbeats,’ they [Dunn Lewis staff] pick them up, get them into work, and make a world of difference,” Ms Sudmalis said.
Side by side with Liberal Gilmore Candidate Warren Mundine, Ms Sudmalis welcomed Families and Social Services Minister Paul Fletcher to Ulladulla for the announcement.
The federal government has pledged $828,000 for the program.
“Some kids are having trouble at school, some are out of school, finding it hard to get work, we can get these kids into careers,” Mr Mundine said.
“We know if you get a kid a job it changes lives for generations to come.”
Dunn and Lewis Youth Development Foundation president Gayle Dunn wants to improve the lives and futures of a host of young people in the district.
“The mission of the Dunn and Lewis Youth Development Foundation is to provide access to services and create new opportunities for all young people in Ulladulla to live their best lives,” she said.
“The foundation believes in and is committed to developing the potential of each individual and we recognise that every young person has the capacity to play a valuable role in society.”
Young people aged 16 to 21 in Ulladulla can learn more about getting involved by contacting the Dunn Lewis Centre on 02 4455 4626.