Kids Back on Track campaign
Youth Insearch advocates have challenged politicians to come to one of the program’s camps and still deny it funding.
The life-changing youth support program is at risk when its government funding runs out in the middle of year. The government is yet to renew its $400,000 support for Youth Insearch, leaving it without guaranteed funding for the first time in more than a decade.
Youth Insearch New England coordinator David Allard said if the people who made budget decisions spent a weekend immersed in a Youth Insearch camp, they would not hesitate to continue funding the program.
“It is impossible to go to one of these camps, even as an observer, and not be moved,” Mr Allard said.
“I’ve never see an adult not cry at their first camp, I’ve never seen an adult walk away changed themselves.
“I challenge anyone to walk away with a harden heart.”
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce requested a meeting with Social Services Minister Christian Porter to discuss the matter six weeks ago, but is still yet to hear from his fellow cabinet member.
“I know this is important, in fact I made a call in regards to this earlier today,” Mr Joyce told The Leader on Wednesday.
Mr Porter’s office has is yet to give any indication if or when the meeting would occur.
Mr Allard said Youth Insearch’s first camp of the year will kick off at Lake Keepit in February, and the charity had its entire year planned out, “irrespective of if the funding runs out or not.”
“We will scrape and beg so we can keep going to see out the year, because these kids need us,” he said.
“We’ll keep weathering the storm and pushing forward with our fingers crossed, hoping that someone in the government finally listens to common sense.”
Mr Allard said Youth Insearch was a wildly successful program in an area where success was difficult to find.
“It’s peer-to-peer support, it’s led by young people, not old know-it-alls like me,” he said.
“It’s someone who has stood in their shoes and sat in that same seat on that same camp.
“When that person looks them in the eyes and said ‘this is what I had to do to get better’, that’s the catalyst for change. This is one of the few programs in Australia that can generate the change that troubled young people need.”