The Lawrence Government today announced a three-year 'youth strategy' aimed at cutting long-term youth unemployment by 50 per cent and achieving a 95 per cent school completion rate.
Education Minister Kay Hallahan - representing Community Development Minister Eric Ripper - said the far-reaching blueprint was tabled in State Parliament today.
Mrs Hallahan said the plan aimed to create jobs, training and education opportunities, promote youth rights and responsibilities, and encourage better health among young people.
Key elements were:
· the provision of 10,000 training and work places available to young people, including 1,600 new positions in the public sector involving a mixture of work and training for up to 18 months;
· the creation of a Commonwealth-State Ministerial Council on Youth Affairs to ensure a united approach to job creation and other youth issues;
· the formation of a Youth and Community Program within the Department for Community Development, under which more than $10 million would be allocated over the next three years, to boost services for disadvantaged youth;
· the appointment of a Commissioner for Young People, a form of youth ombudsman to be an advocate in public decision-making;
· the development of a comprehensive Police/Youth relations strategy, including the requirement that an independent adult witness be present when juveniles were questioned by police;
· the formation of a Statewide Youth Parliament to give young Western Australians a more direct voice in youth affairs;
· the development of Youth Action Statements by relevant State Government departments outlining strategies to achieve policy targets and key directions.
"This strategy is based on the widest consultative process ever undertaken with young people in this State," Mrs Hallahan said.
"The process involved the input, to the Community and Family Commission, of more than 2,000 young people, the Youth Summit during Youthfest '92 and evidence of more than 200 witnesses brought before the Parliamentary Select Committee on Youth Affairs."
Mrs Hallahan said the strategy set targets for the Government to:
· reduce long-term youth unemployment by 50 per cent;
· ensure that all school-leavers and unemployed young people had access to relevant training and education opportunities;
· reduce by 50 per cent the number of persistent truants; and
· cut by 20 per cent the incidence of a smoking and alcohol abuse.