Coalition steps up to fund Learning Networks

CENTRAL Grampians Local Learning Employment Network (CGLLEN) is breathing a sigh of relief after the Victorian Government last week announced it too will continue to fund the organisation's programs in 2015.

Central Grampians LLEN executive officer, James Skene, is pictured with Labor candidate, Daniel McGlone.

Central Grampians LLEN executive officer, James Skene, is pictured with Labor candidate, Daniel McGlone.

However, the network of 31 Victorian organisations responsible for helping young people improve job and training opportunities is disappointed the Napthine government will only fund the network for a further one year.

The Coalition has announced it will increase funding for LLENs by $5.7 million in 2015 to $8 million, while Labor announced an election commitment to fund the LLENs $8 million each year for the next four years.

Minister for Education Martin Dixon said the state government's commitment of funding follows the Federal Government's May budget decision to discontinue its financial contribution.

"Just as the Napthine Government stepped in with $5.1 million to save the Workplace Learning Coordinators program in 2013, we have been working with the LLENs to ensure they have certainty for next year, following the Federal Government budget decision to withdraw funding," he said.

"Disappointingly the Federal Government has reduced its funding from $11 million in 2014 to zero funding in 2015.

"This $13.1 million investment will ensure LLENs and Workplace Learning Coordinators can continue to deliver strong pathways from school to further education and work."

CGLLEN executive officer, James Skene said he welcomes any efforts to guarantee the youth organisation's long term future, however the state government commitment doesn't go far enough.

"It's great the government recognises the value of the work that we do, however, uncertainty remains, this doesn't give us the stability we need moving forward," he said.

Mr Skene said at present, after taking into account what both parties are offering, CGLLEN will still endure a 40 percent funding cut from January 1, 2015.

"Both parties are offering 60 percent of our current funding, the issue is not who is offering what but how we are going to go about continuing to support the kids we have been working with for the past 13 years," he said.

The goal of each LLEN is to support 10-19 year old students within its geographical boundaries by improving their participation, engagement, attainment and transition outcomes.

The Convener of the Victorian LLEN Chairs Network, Mike Grogan, said the work of the LLEN is strategic and long term in nature which makes a one year contract a challenge.

"It is positive news that the LLENs will be funded for 2015 and we look forward to continue our working relationship with Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (EECD) to develop an effective model to support all young people across Victoria," he said.

"In the last four years, the LLENs network has assisted more than 250,000 young Victorians who were at risk of disengaging, or who had already disengaged from school, training or work.

"Every year, we establish and monitor more than 850 partnerships between young people, their families, training organisations and employers."

"The LLENs hope to be able to continue to work with the Coalition government to secure the future of the LLENs beyond 2015."

Mr Dixon said although he believed schools are best placed to identify the needs of their students and community, there is a role for government and the community in identifying and addressing the needs of vulnerable young people - including those who are disengaged from school.

"The new Children and Youth Area Partnerships framework, detailed in the Napthine Government's Victoria's Vulnerable Children Strategy, will bring together key government and community sector leaders to tackle child and youth vulnerability, including engagement in education.

"The Napthine Government has a proud record of working with vulnerable young people. As a further sign of this unwavering commitment, in the coming months we will be working with LLENs, Workplace Learning Coordinators, schools, industry and other stakeholders to manage the transition to a more effective and sustainable state-based model."


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