COLAC’S youth health hub is set to lose its youth worker only months after opening.
Colac Area Health will lose its youth development worker from January, after the position missed out on funding through the State Government’s Engage program.
A spokeswoman for Youth Affairs Minster Ryan Smith said applications for the program were “competitive” and “not on-going” and CAH had received $135,000 in a 2012-14 funding round.
“Over 270 applications were received as part of the Engage 2015-17 application process,” she said.
Colac Area Health chief Geoff Iles said the State Government’s failure to continue funding a youth worker position “simply dismisses need of our youth in Colac”.
“We have got to a stage where we will no longer be successful – with no explanation – it’s a pretty poor process,” Mr Iles said.
“The Department of Human Services and other organsiations were well aware of Colac’s priority to look after our young people, this position is integral to the Youth Health Hub,” he said.
Mr Iles said he had contacted Polwarth MP Terry Mulder “to support us in seeking a reconsider of this position”.
“Saying that it is a highly competitive process, that simply dismisses all of the work we have done and high levels of performance we have given,” Mr Iles said.
“The Colac Herald this week clearly demonstrated disadvantage in the Colac community which is further stressed by unemployment levels and most of that is youth unemployment – this is poor timing in terms of that,” he said.
Mr Mulder said he would pursue the matter with the Department of Human Services.
“Concerns about this decision have already been raised with me and I have undertaken to speak to the relevant Ministers over the next few days to relay the importance of the provision of youth services to the Colac community,” Mr Mulder said.
Colac Otway Shire Council formed a partnership with Colac Area Health last month, committing $30,000 to help fund Colac youth hub’s youth development worker.
Mayor Lyn Russell said the council supported CAH’s call for a reinstatement of State Government funding for the role.
“Given the prevalence of issues associated with a high level of social disadvantage in our community, such as teenage pregnancy, low educational attainment and drug and alcohol dependence, it is clear that the youth development worker position was a vital one to support our young people,” she said.
Trinity College Colac wellbeing co-ordinator Mick McCrickard said Colac’s Youth Health Hub’s youth worker was a crucial link between schools and students, and losing that link would be “devastating”.
“A youth hub without a youth worker will be like a restaurant without a chef,” Mr McCrickard said.
“I know that the youth worker that is currently there has done an enormous job bridging the gap between school and school kids with programs for mental health for engagement and for sexuality,” he said.