A Shorten Labor Government will invest $8 million in a successful program that helps disadvantaged young people in Melbourne’s west finish school, go to uni, and get jobs.
The program, run by the not-for-profit organisation Western Chances, provides intensive support from high school onwards, including scholarships to make sure money is no barrier to students achieving their full potential.
The Deputy Labor Leader, Tanya Plibersek, said the $8 million commitment will allow Western Chances to expand the program to every public high school in Melbourne’s west, doubling the number of scholarships offered each year to about 1,300.
“The scholarships are awarded to students in the final years of high school, and continue supporting them at uni,” Ms Plibersek said.
“Each scholarship is tailor made, and can be used to cover the cost of educational basics such as textbooks, laptops, internet access, and travel cards.
“In a recent survey, 95 per cent of scholarship recipients reported that financial challenges were a barrier to getting a good education.
“Labor’s investment will also allow Western Chances to expand its career advice service.
“The program will work closely with employers to connect young people with jobs.
“Labor can afford to support terrific programs like this because unlike the Liberals we are not giving handouts to the top end of town.
“Labor is the only party that will give young people in Melbourne’s west the support they need,” Ms Plibersek said.
The Member for Lalor, Joanne Ryan, said that last year 99 per cent of young people benefiting from Western Chances finished Year 12, and 97 per cent were offered places in higher education.
“Year-on-year Western Chances Year 12 completion and tertiary pathway statistics are consistently high,” Ms Ryan said.
“When I was a local high school principal I saw the huge success of this program.
“It is changing lives.
“I am proud Labor is making this investment to expand its reach.
“Melbourne’s west has the highest youth unemployment rate in Victoria – 18.6 per cent.
“This program is about getting more of those young people the education they need and into meaningful work pathways.” Ms Ryan said.
The average Western Chances scholarship is $1,000 per year, the average age first awarded is 16, and the average length of scholarship is 3-4 years.
Western Chances runs across Western Melbourne’s 102 suburbs.
THURSDAY, 28 MARCH 2019