Transcript by The Hon Scott Morrison MP

Press conference

Location: Hope Centre, Warrawong


MINISTER MORRISON: Here at the Hope Centre – we were here in April with Lizzie and the team and we were here with the outgoing class at the time who were going through the programme and we were incredibly impressed by the work that is done here to prepare young people to be in work and to get in work, and then to stay in work. These are the objectives we have as a government, not just to ensure people can find that work but that they can stick at it. What we are seeing here through this programme is people successfully achieving that and that’s not just changing their own circumstances specifically it is changing the circumstances of their families, of communities and that is why the government was so pleased to be involved in first setting up this tremendous training facility here and then supporting the programme, the True Steel programme, but now to announce that over the next two years we will be investing a further $200,000 in the programme here for True Steel to ensure that like the young men you see there and the young ladies and young men who have come through this programme – we will continue to see young people here in the Illawarra get the opportunity to learn the skills that they need to take them into a life of work. A life that they very much aspire to and I am always impressed when I meet young people who clearly just want to be able to get into a job and stick in a job and to be able to take control of their own circumstances because we know the best form of welfare is work and we need to do everything we can as government to try and encourage people along that pathway.

Lizzie to you and your team, it wasn’t a hard decision to continue to support the work here because the results speak for themselves. Out of the last programme 20 young people going through the programme 17 in jobs and the rest in learning. That is great result – 20 out of 20 is a great result and we look forward to those results continuing here in the Illawarra and for the programme to not only get the support of the federal government but I also make an appeal to business people throughout the Illawarra and elsewhere to get in and support this programme. It needs that support not just from the government – this is changing your community and you can support this programme by not only directly contributing to the work that is done here at the Hope Centre, whether it is the food bank downstairs or up here in the training facility, but by ensuring that there are the jobs that are there for the young people to have a go at and to get that opportunity. So it is great to be here with Senator Fierravanti Wells my Parliamentary Secretary and a local ‘Gong girl.

SENATOR FIERRAVANTI WELLS: That’s right, down the road.

MINISTER MORRISON: Just come down the road from where her parents live – her mother still lives to this day and Ann Sudmalis from the south who has also been a great supporter of these sorts of works so for the three of us it is a great thrill to be here. So Lizzie did you want to say anything?

LIZZIE MILLAR: Always a chance to speak – no. One of the reasons we set up True Steel as you all know is simply because young people weren’t getting a fair hearing really and they were suffering from intergenerational unemployment, they were suffering from massive mental health issues and a massive statistic in youth suicide. At the Hope Centre, especially in our work at the Food Barn here, we recognised that that is not good enough. So we put together this programme and gratefully through the government’s funding we managed to pull the first one off with the courage of the young people who took part in that first sort of pilot programme and the results speak for their value, their worth in this community and what they are contributing back to society and the purpose they have now got in their lives. You know it is wonderful to be able to sit here and be privileged enough to journey with those young people and as the young guys that are here today who start next week with me don’t really know what is about to happen to them. But you know every one of them has a massive skill set that can contribute to society in a time that is really quite tough economically and also generationally and the Illawarra needs a break. So to be part of that programme is a privilege, I am so grateful for the funding and the support and the trust the government are putting in us to do this. As always it is 101 per cent and it is team and the Food Barn downstairs and all the other programmes we run here all come together it is a holistic approach because that is what this region needs at this time and without the support of these guys and the media support we get and work for the dole people there is no way this could happen. We could write the best programme there is but without that support and that team approach there is no point opening the doors. But mostly I am so grateful on behalf of the young people because they deserve a chance and they’re our future and while we invest in them they will always learn and there are great things to come from this region. So I am so grateful.

MINISTER MORRISON: Good on you Lizzie, thank you very much. Were there any questions on the programme?

QUESTION: Is there any plans to expand this to other parts of the region and may there be some funding in the kitty if it were to go elsewhere – like in the Shoalhaven?

MINISTER MORRISON: Well we are very keen to see successful programmes able to expand and whether it is here, in the Illawarra or anywhere else in the country. We are investing in similar types of initiatives all around the country and Lizzie is right there is a lot at stake here because if we can continue to demonstrate that these sorts of programmes work then it makes my job as the Social Services Minister that much more easier to argue to my colleagues that if we continue to invest in these programmes then not only does it see lives change, young lives change, and communities change but that also delivers significant savings to the federal government in terms of the welfare and social services support that the community draws on. So look this is a win-win situation investing in programmes like this so I am optimistic that those results will continue and as the results continue to flow then I would expect to see programmes like this flourish and expand. Any other questions on those issues?

QUESTION: I have couple on some other issues.

MINISTER MORRISON: On other issues? We might do that – we might excuse Lizzie for those. Any questions on other issues?

QUESTION: Firstly can I just ask do you think the Prime Minister’s comments a week and half ago that the Islamic State terrorists are coming after us exaggerated the threat and amplified their message?

MINISTER MORRISON: Well my understanding of what the Prime Minister said is they are the claims that have been made by Daesh as opposed to what the Prime Minister is saying. We can’t underestimate the threat that comes as a result of what is happening in the Middle East. Of the hundreds that have gone and fought there those that have links back in their own communities here and we would be na?ve I think to be complacent about these issues. The government isn’t being complacent about them, we have invested over $1 billion in beefing up the security response that we have in relation to these matters but importantly in this Budget we invested over $20 million in a new programme that seeks to change the life circumstances for young migrant and refugee youth. Now in Sydney, particularly in South West Sydney, we will be looking to invest in programmes which particularly go to those young people who may be at risk of being predated upon by Daesh and others and who they would seek to recruit. We have a range of responses but one of them – one of those responses is to get those young people into education and to get them into work and give them positive choices that are available to them here in Australia and to ensure that they are not vulnerable – they are not vulnerable to the lies that comes from the Daesh recruiters. So you have got to have a broad stream response to this, you have to have the hard security response and you have got to have your overseas response which is being performed so ably by our serving defence men and women. But you have got to have a community response as well and that’s what the Budget has done.

QUESTION: Do you think Malcolm Turnbull’s speech last night was a thinly veiled attack on the Prime Minister?

MINISTER MORRISON: No, I don’t think it was anything like that remotely at all. I think what it was was just another amplification, another reinforcement of the need to ensure that we deal with these issues in a broad brush way. That we don’t at any time give any support to those who would seek to do us harm and to ensure that we are dealing with this issue at every single level. We are not complacent about these things, I don’t think favourably and importantly there would be few serving in Parliament – if any I would hope that would be being complacent about this and that is certainly the Government’s reaction and response and I think it is why Australian’s feel very very confident and very supportive of the strong position the Prime Minister has taken on the issues of national security and how they are being managed and his full team, including myself and ministers right across the Cabinet have been supporting the Prime Minister in all things.

QUESTION: Malcolm Turnbull touched on the importance to the justice system and the courts in dealing with some of these issues. Do you agree with him on that front?

MINISTER MORRISON: Well the justice system does deal with these issues and Mr Turnbull comments it think totally align with the government’s approach to these issues. So I don’t think there is any surprise about that. I mean the government is working together as one – every minister, every member to ensure that Australian’s are safe and secure – that our national security is protected. We are doing that through the work of our defence forces, we are doing that through the work of our security forces but we are also doing it through the work of our social services that are out in migrant communities and other communities around the country ensuring that we are giving people the supports they need to make good choices. Senator Fierravanti Wells has been closely involved in that work, in particular with Phillip Ruddock in that process, and the response we are getting from those communities I think has been very positive.

SENATOR FIERRAVANTI WELLS: Perhaps if I could add, let’s not forget that the Minister mentioned of course the spending in the national security component of it and we also spend $660 million over forward estimates in a range of programmes in our Department in relation to settlement services, multicultural social cohesion and as the Minister correctly said youth at risk. One of the important things that came out of the Countering Violent Extremism Summit which we recently had is the importance of working with community and therefore you cannot underestimate the work that is done not just in the Department of Social Services where a predominant array of services and programmes exist in our Department but also in other programmes including in the Attorney General’s Department in relation to countering violent extremism. But the important thing that we need to understand is that community engagement and community involvement is one of the most important things and that’s why the work that we will do in this Department especially and the programmes that the Minister mentioned in terms of assisting young people who are at risk is so vitally important to stop that radicalisation process before it actually begins.

MINISTER MORRISON: It is important to understand that young people can be subject to all sorts of vulnerabilities and in some of our communities there isn’t some Daesh recruiter coming around trying to talk you into making the biggest bad mistake of your life. In my community they might find themselves going into drugs or alcohol or joining a gang God forbid. But in other communities in Australia we have young people who are exposed to other vulnerabilities and that is the death cult recruiters and so a community response to counter that is very important. I think these are the same – the Prime Minister is making these points, we are making these points, Minister Turnbull is making these points – our government is at one on the issue of national security. Ok, any other questions?

QUESTION: The regional broadcasters are launching a campaign this week for media reforms, do you have stance on that?

MINISTER MORRISON: Look I will leave those matters to the Communications Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister; these are issues that will continue to be consulted on and worked through. Ok but it is good to be here in a regional area today and seeing the regional coverage of what is a very important regional programme that is being run here in the Illawarra. It is a great thrill to be back here at the centre and I look forward to coming back Lizzie and seeing the progress, see the next class and their passing out parade.