The Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network based in Victoria have released the following statement summarising how the 2014 Federal Budget will affect multicultural young people:
While funding for settlement services has been maintained, the changes to Newstart and university funding will have a major impact on the lives of young people.
Multicultural Youth Advocacy Network (MYAN) National Coordinator Nadine Liddy said she welcomed the continued commitment to settlement services, particularly the focus on the targeted service delivery for newly arrived migrant and refugee young people.
The Department of Social Services’ (DSS) new grant arrangements bring together 18 programmes from five former departments into seven streamlined programmes.
“The budget has made provisions for these programs to be maintained at the same level of funding and now available for up to five years,” Ms Liddy said.
“However, while the streamlining of these services provide for a continued focus on young people, there are concerns about the danger of a reduced emphasis on specialised services for multicultural young people.”
National Convenor of the MYAN Carmel Guerra raised concerns about the changes to youth allowances.
“A recently released Centre for Multicultural Youth report on young people and their employment outcomes revealed that migrant and refugee young people have one of the highest unemployment rates,” Ms Guerra said.
“It is absolutely critical that the right level of support is available and that appropriate systems are in place to facilitate their transition into employment. Cuts to Newstart will leave this group of highly vulnerable young people without an essential safety net.”
The MYAN has outlined key points below that will affect young people as they strive to complete their education, find jobs and contribute to the continued prosperity of Australia.
- Settlement service programs maintained at the same funding level and now available for up to five years.
- The Department of Social Services’ (DSS) new grant arrangements bring together 18 programmes from five former departments into seven streamlined programmes.
- Creation of three new programmes – Families and Communities Programme; Housing and Homelessness Programme and; Disability, Mental Health and Carers Programme.
- New changes to the settlement program – widening of eligible clients and a continued focus on young people.
- Eligibility age for Newstart increased from 22 to 25. Young people will remain on Youth Allowance which is $48 less per week.
- Concessional Trade Support Loans of up to $20,000 over a four-year apprenticeship to be provided from July 2014.
- People up to the age of 30 must demonstrate job search and participation in employment services support for six months before they are eligible for Newstart or Youth Allowance.
- Introduction of Work for the Dole Program.
- Abandonment of Better Schools Plan (Gonski) in 2017-2018.
- 20 per cent cut to the Commonwealth’s contribution to course fees for new students from 2016.
- Universities will set their own fees.
- Removal of the cap on student contributions towards a university degree.
- Student loan fee repayments lowered by 10 per cent of the current threshold.
- FEE-HELP loan interest will be charged at the higher government bond rate rather than the current inflation rate.
- School leavers to wait six months to be eligible for Youth Allowance.
- Funding for the previous Developing Social Cohesion Program in the then DIAC has been maintained.
- $18 million investment in Schools Security Program to protect schools and preschools facing a risk of attack, harassment or violence stemming from racial or religious intolerance.
- Cessation of the Building Socially Inclusive Communities – Community Hubs measure in 2013–14.
- Cessation of the Building Multicultural Communities Programme and the Empowering Local Communities Programme in 2013–14.
- $2.6m in 2014-2015 for full time school education for Maritime Arrivals on Christmas Island.
- Provision of support services to assist Asylum Seekers in gaining employment
Unaccompanied Humanitarian Minors (UHMs)
- Funding of $27.3m over two years to support the supervision and support of UHMs.
- Youth Connections, School Business Community Partnership Brokers and National Career Development activities will cease at the end of 2014.
- Renewed support for young people’s participation in government, civic and local community activities through National Youth Week, awards and forums.
- Continuation of National Youth Clearinghouse Services and National Youth Affairs Research Scheme.
The Government will provide $3.0 million over four years to fund a bursary programme to assist young carers to continue their studies.
MYAN (Australia) is the nationally recognised policy and advocacy body representing multicultural youth issues. Auspiced by the Centre for Multicultural Youth, the MYAN (Australia) is the only national voice on multicultural youth issues.