Kids Back On Track campaign
IT’S been six weeks since the Deputy Prime Minister requested a meeting with the Social Services Minister to discuss funding Youth Insearch, but Barnaby Joyce is yet to hear back from his fellow cabinet member.
The program, which Tamworth magistrate Mal MacPherson says is the only youth support program he’s seen work in 25 years, is at risk when it runs out of government funding in the middle of the year.
Heath Ducker, who heads up the charity, said the meeting needs to take place soon as the federal government budget process will be completed in March.
“There needs to be something firmly agreed upon before then,” Mr Ducker said.
“Historically funding has been peeled off and allocated to Youth Insearch. If that's to be the case again, the decision needs to be made before March.”
A spokeswoman for Mr Joyce said he wrote to Mr Porter on December 13, 2016, on behalf of Mr Ducker and Mr MacPherson, requesting a meeting between the four of them.
“[Mr Joyce] hopes to receive a reply soon,” she said.
When asked by The Leader, a spokesman for Social Services Minister Christian Porter gave no indication if or when the meeting would occur.
“The Minister’s department, the Department of Social Services, is about to write to all organisations about future funding arrangements,” he said. “This will occur over the next couple of weeks. That will be followed up by direct contact from the department.”
If Youth Insearch isn’t supported, it will be first it will be without guaranteed government funding in more than a decade.
The program is seeking $400,000, which Mr Ducker said was bargain for the government given the many positive outcomes it delivers.
“If you look at the reductions in service and welfare use, crimes and improvements in mental health, it’s been shown we are able to have a positive impact 80 per of the time,” he said.
“Rather than becoming a burden on society, we help these young people lead happy and successful lives.”
Mr Ducker said there was the possibility of Youth Insearch being funded under a new grant stream released as part of the budget, but without meeting with Mr Porter it was impossible to know.