Media Release by The Hon Larry Anthony MP

Labor to cut early childhood programs?

 Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Larry Anthony today said that the spin applied to Labor’s announcement today would take even Shane Warne’s breath away.

“Mark Latham said today that a Labor Government would take funding for their ‘National Mentoring Foundation’ from the Stronger Families and Communities Strategy. This Strategy is a Coalition Government initiative that has been refocussed on early childhood – another area of interest to the Opposition Leader.

“Besides early childhood initiatives, the new $365 million Stronger Families and Communities Strategy includes the $60 million Local Answers initiative that will give community organisations and groups access to funding for local programs like mentoring, leadership, volunteering and youth development.

“In essence, Mr Latham is robbing Peter to pay Paul. Labor will either have to take money away from early childhood initiatives, or commit more than half of the available funding from the vitally important Local Answers initiative.

“Anyone in the youth service sector will tell you that Government approaches need to be broad and flexible and mentoring is just one of many ways of supporting young people.

“The Government’s approach through the flexible Stronger Families and Communities Strategy, Reconnect and JPET services offer communities a wide range of Government support for young people.

“Over the last four years more than 180 mentoring and leadership projects have been funded more than $23 million from the Stronger Families and Communities Strategy.

“This is in addition to the Government’s $4.4 million Mentor Marketplace initiative that is very effectively engaging young people with people in business, schools and communities and fostering community leaders. We are supporting many groups including Big Brothers Big Sisters, The Smith Family and Youth Off the Streets.

“It has been the Coalition Government that has recognised that it is people on the ground who know what best suits their local situation. This is why we provide flexible funding for a diverse range of projects right across Australia.

“The Australian Government’s initiatives are not about spin and media opportunities. In contrast to Labor’s approach of back-patting and self congratulation, the Government is getting on with the job of supporting young people in a way that suits their needs” Mr Anthony said.