Axe hovers over youth aid

Program to be cut: MTC Australia Youth Connections clients Oliana Uiliata, Codi Evens-McGrath and Blake Ryan may be left without any way of continuing their education if the plan to cut the program is approved. Picture: Simon Bennett

Program to be cut: MTC Australia Youth Connections clients Oliana Uiliata, Codi Evens-McGrath and Blake Ryan may be left without any way of continuing their education if the plan to cut the program is approved. 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 has been attending the Liverpool MTC centre's alternate learning facility for the past three months and said that it's 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 child care after that.

"If this program is cut I won't have anywhere else to go."

Mr Keil said area's youth unemployment rate, at 15.9 per cent, demonstrated the challenges that young people in Liverpool faced.

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

"[I will]put a question on notice about how these cuts will impact on local programs," Mr Kelly 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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