darren.chester.mp@aph.gov.au 1300 131 785
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December 14, 2009

Berry Street Gippsland will receive $500,000 to target the Latrobe Valley’s low year 12 school retention rates.

The Nationals Member for Gippsland Darren Chester congratulated Berry Street on being awarded the Federal Government Youth Connection contract for the Latrobe Valley and Baw Baw regions.

“The funding will be used to support teenagers aged 15 to 19 years to stay at school longer and help assist young people to find jobs and keep them,” Mr Chester said.

“Berry Street has a long-standing record of delivering high quality services for Gippsland and the organisation is well placed to tackle the challenges of school retention rates and youth unemployment.”

Mr Chester said Gippsland had lower incomes and higher levels of unemployment than the state average, which is linked to low educational attainment.

“Adult, Community and Further Education (ACFE) statistics show only 46% of Gippsland residents have achieved year 12 completion and around half have a post-school qualification,” Mr Chester said.

“The Latrobe Valley is named as the most disadvantaged town in Gippsland with the lowest levels of educational attainment by the Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA).

“I have no doubt that our young people are smart enough and have the ability to compare with the rest of the state – so this must come from disadvantage: the cost of education, the ability of families to support students through school,  the cost of university and providing aspiration for our students.

“The key to future success is encouraging our young people to place a high value on education and achieving their best.”

Mr Chester said Berry Street already offered job placement and training services and a range of youth services.

The organisation is renowned for its focus on choosing to tackle the hard issues and to; work with those children and families who are hurting the most and who have the most complex needs.

“The organisation has the experience and networks required to provide great support to our local students and tackle the generational issues of unemployment and youth training in the Latrobe Valley,” Mr Chester said.

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