A new program has been funded to help Mandurah and Rockingham’s young parents as part of an innovative trial to tackle welfare dependency.
Canning MP Andrew Hastie and Minister for Social Services Dan Tehan launched the Career Readiness for Young Parents trial in Mandurah on Wednesday, allocating $1 million for Bridging the Gap to run the program over 28 months.
The trial is part of the Turnbull Government’s $96.1 million Try, Test and Learn Fund and will allow about 60 young parents to work in groups and with a personal adviser to address their barriers to work and develop their careers.
Bridging the Gap chief executive Alison Palmer said the organisation was excited to be a part of program as “there is nothing like it”.
“We've worked in Mandurah and the southern areas of Perth for over 30 years and we really know and understand the needs of the local communities and what we've been hearing for quite some time the challenges and plights of young single parents, particularly young mums,” she said.
“These are our future people in our communities and what the Try, Test and Learn funding does is it provides them with intensive, comprehensive support to address a multitude of areas in their lives that they can find difficult or challenging.
“Our ultimate aims is to help them overcome some of those issues and problems by working collaboratively within the communities, providing a really holistic approach, and looking at what career pathway would suit them and fit in with their parenting responsibilities so they're not inadvertently trapped in that welfare and revolving door cycle.”
Young parents are an at-risk group for welfare dependency with 79 percent of Parenting Payment recipients aged under 19 still expected to receive income support payments in 10 years, and 57 percent still receiving income support in 20 years.
Mr Hastie said in a lot of cases these young parents have been in tough situations and may not have had a mentoring relationship.
“I can't speak for individual cases but I know that we've had a lack of opportunity down here in Mandurah and there's a lot of kids who miss out, growing up,” he said.
“So what this program seeks to do is for young parents particularly is to give them those skills that they missed out on or the mentoring opportunity that they didn't get as a young person and that's what we all need as kids.
“We need those mentoring opportunities so we can grow and reach a point where we can make a contribution in the workforce. “
Mr Tehan said parents could also gain work experience in areas such as child care and food service.
“The economy created more than 1000 jobs a day last year and we want every Australian to take advantage of the opportunities and rewards that employment can provide,” Mr Tehan said.
“This initiative will trial the impacts of tailored support that enables young parents to focus on improving their job readiness and helping their children.”
Young parents in Mandurah or Rockingham interested in this program should contact Bridging the Gap at bridgingthegap.org.au/what-we-do/.
Tranche two of the Try, Test and Learn Fund is open for submissions, with $50 million available for trial initiatives that improve people’s lives and reduce welfare dependency.
More information about the Try, Test and Learn Fund can be found on the Department of Social Services’ website.