Youth Insearch plead federal government to fund it in 2017 budget

HOLDING OUT HOPE: The charity is begging the government to come to its aid.
HOLDING OUT HOPE: The charity is begging the government to come to its aid.

Youth Insearch’s campaign

YOUTH Insearch is making one final plea to the federal government to provide the charity with guaranteed funding in the upcoming budget, which is due to drop in less than a month.

Tamworth acting magistrate Mal MacPherson said funding the youth support program was just as important as the tax breaks being considered for businesses.

“I’m pleading them to not look at this in just money terms, but in personal terms and what a difference a few bob makes to these young people,” he said.

“These kids have no hope at the start of the program – you can see it in their eyes, you listen to them say things like ‘I’m worthless, nobody cares’ – to having hope at the end. I know it sounds miraculous, but it works.”

Besides the compassionate reasons, Mr MacPherson said it made sense from an economic viewpoint.

“These vulnerable kids end up becoming an economic burden on society if we don’t do something about it,” he said.

The latest government figures put the average cost of keeping a juvenile in detention for a year at nearly $500,000.

Last year, Youth Insearch worked with more than 550 kids who had trouble with police before attending the program – 84 per cent of those have not re-offended.

“Even if we stop just a fraction of those young people from going into detention, the government has saved money,” Youth Insearch CEO Heath Ducker said.

Mr Ducker, who went to the program himself as a troubled teen, said the $400,000 it was asking for, and normally received, formed the foundation of the organisation.

Most of its other costs were covered by private benefactors and volunteers. But without that foundation and security the government funding provides, the program is at risk.

“We’ll have cut services to 400 young people, and those are 400 of the most at risk and desperate young people,” Mr Ducker said.

“It’s time to step up and support Youth Insearch. Look at the facts, there are clear benefits and clear cost savings. These are real young people who are going to miss out and it’s not good enough there is no commitment.”

Youth Insearch is hopeful Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce can wield his influence to provide funding in the budget.

Mr Joyce arranged a meeting between Youth Insearch and Social Services Minister Christian Porter, announced an extra $50,000 to see the program through to the end of the year, and visited the most recent camp at Lake Keepit.

The Leader asked Mr Joyce if he had spoken to Mr Porter since the meeting.

“With assistance available from the Social Services office, Youth Insearch representatives have not made any further enquiries to the New England MP in regards to Commonwealth funding,” a spokesperson said.

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