YOUTH Insearch’s funding plight will be discussed at the highest level, with Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and Parkes MP Mark Coulton sitting down for a round-table discussion with Social Services Minister Christian Porter on Wednesday.
The news comes as the Department of Social Services announced it would give Youth Insearch an additional $50,000 to see it through to the end of the year.
When Youth Insearch’s funding stream of $400,000 a year was cut, it was given a one-off $100,000 transitional grant for the 2016/17 financial year, which runs out in June. Mr Joyce welcomed the funding extension and looked forward to the meeting with his Coalition colleagues.
“This is a great start and means that Youth Insearch can continue doing good work – however Mark Coulton, Minister Porter and myself will meet in February to discuss further funding possibilities for the long term,” Mr Joyce said.
In December, Mr Joyce requested a meeting between himself, Mr Porter, along with Youth Insearch CEO Heath Ducker and Tamworth magistrate Mal MacPherson – who are both delighted to get the opportunity to tell Mr Porter about all the good work the program does.
Mr MacPherson was recently awarded Tamworth Citizen of the Year for his work with Youth Insearch.
While he was grateful for the funding extension, he said “to run the whole show, we need $400,000”.
“Something is better than nothing – it’s just one of those things, we need to keep knocking at the door until we get some satisfaction,” Mr MacPherson said.
“It would be an absolute tragedy if this program failed in want of a few dollars, because lets face it, it really is only a few dollars.”
Mr Ducker said he appreciated “the effort Mr Joyce is going to to make something happen”.
“The funding extension is great news and we appreciate that very much, however it is a temporary measure that will only go so far,” Mr Ducker said.
“What we really need is the full grant amount to be reinstated. For the long term, we need a concrete outcome, and I am looking forward to seeing what happens as a result of this meeting.”
Mr Coulton said he looked forward to telling to Mr Porter about the great job Youth Insearch does helping young people in his electorate.
“With the results it gets, we need to find a way for it to continue the good work it does,” Mr Coulton said.
The Parkes MP said there was “nothing sinister” about the government’s current lack of commitment to fund Youth Insearch into the future.
“Funding programs run on several year cycles and then end, that’s just the way it works,” he said.
“We need to make sure we can look into how we can keep funding it.”
The Leader approached Mr Porter for a comment, but he “wouldn’t comment specifically on a meeting yet to be held”.
Youth Insearch was anxious to see the meeting – which was requested about eight weeks ago – take place before all federal budget decisions are finalised in March. Since December, The Leader has run a dedicated and vigorous campaign – Kids Back On Track – calling on the federal government to reinstate Youth Insearch’s funding.