Media Release by Senator the Hon Kay Patterson

Empowering communities to turn problems into opportunities

┬áCommunities will be given a massive boost to develop local projects with the help of $5.68 million in funding for 43 projects across Victoria under the Howard Government’s Local Answersinitiative.

The Minister for Family and Community Services, Senator Kay Patterson, today announced the additional funding for the new projects in Victoria which will help these communities develop local projects to address local issues.

“It is important that we support communities to develop their skills and abilities to resolve issues and create opportunities. As part of the initiative communities will work in partnership with government and business to build a better future,” Senator Patterson said.

“The Local Answers initiative, part of the Stronger Families and Communities Strategy, will help communities to build better parenting and relationships skills, support mentoring and leadership and encourage access to training and education for young parents.

“For example, Care and Communication Concern Welfare Services Inc will work with 540 disadvantaged youth in the West Melbourne and Dandenong areas, enabling them to graduate from the Hand Brake Turn project.

“The Hand Brake Turn project assists and supports young people who are long term unemployed, young parents, homeless, Indigenous or from culturally diverse backgrounds, to gain employment, an apprenticeship or undertake further training or education.

“The projects trains these people in Certificate One Automotive while preparing them for their participation in mainstream education and employment.

“Elsewhere, Volunteer West will link at-home parents to volunteer opportunities with organisation that help other families, parents and children as part of its Parents Helping Families project in Melbourne’s West.

“The program will provide opportunities to build confidence, skills, knowledge and readiness for paid employment, whilst supporting other families, parents and children.

“The Howard Government has also committed a further $70 million to the expansion of Local Answers, bringing the total funding to $137 million over four years.

“As a result of this further commitment, bi-annual funding rounds will now take place, giving families and communities the power to develop their own solutions and help them to help themselves.

“This initiative recognises that communities themselves know what their needs are and how they can best be addressed.

Local Answers is a genuine example of the Howard Government’s total support and commitment to helping communities at a local level,” Senator Patterson said.

For further information on the Howard Government’s Stronger Families and Communities Strategy visit www.facs.gov.au and future Local Answers funding rounds will be advertised on the website and in the press.