$40 MILLION FUND TO INVEST IN REGIONAL YOUTH
From developing work ready skills, improving health services, to improving access to digital technology, young people in the Tamworth electorate will be given the power to build their own future through a $40 million investment by the NSW Government.
Member for Tamworth Kevin Anderson said the new $40 million ‘Our Region, Our Voice’ program would offer grants of up to $3 million for targeted local initiatives to help regional youth reach their full potential.
“One thing I always hear from youth in our region is they want to be at the table when it comes to making decisions that affect them,” Mr Anderson said.
“One of the key initiatives from the NSW Government is to actively engage our regional youth, ensuring we’re best supporting them as they make their way through high school and into adulthood.
“This funding program will be a big part of that, ensuring that our youth have the resources they need to drive initiatives that benefit their whole community.”
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole said the record investment has been shaped by youth for youth.
“We’ve engaged with 2000 young people in regional communities across our state to understand what matters to them and to ensure this investment will meet the needs of the next generation, now and into the future,” Mr Toole said.
“We know young people experience challenges differently depending on where they live, and the ‘Our Region, Our Voice’ Regional Youth Investment Program is about empowering regional youth to drive local solutions to local issues.
Minister for Regional Youth Ben Franklin said the funding will be allocated across nine areas identified as high priorities by the Regional Youth Taskforce and Regional Youth Insights - the largest regional youth research project ever commissioned by the NSW Government.
“From more mental health support and improved career pathways to greater recreational activities and reliable public transport, this research told us exactly what our regional youth want and need,” Mr Franklin said.
“This record investment allows the NSW Government to deliver targeted and collaborative support measures that build on the work we are already doing to ensure regional youth reach their full potential, without having to move to a major city.”
Youth Community Coordinator for New England North West Anna Cooper said the ‘Our Region, Our Voice’ program would provide significant benefits for youth in the Tamworth and Gunnedah communities.
“It has been a difficult few years for the New England Northwest and young people have felt the repercussions of lockdown, social isolation, job losses, breaks in education and changes to life as we know it, but we know through speaking with our youth that they are keen to take part in activities that will help them and their communities thrive,” Ms Cooper said.
The ‘Our Region, Our Voice’ has funding available for projects to:
- Enhance high school engagement and retention
- Develop work ready skills, knowledge and networks
- Increase access and quality of health services including provision of youth services
- Improve access to public and private transport
- Better access to digital technology and digital skills
- Deliver more community youth projects
- Support at risk-youth
- Assist young people to secure affordable housing
The priority for the New England and North West region is to improve access to mental health services. 36 per cent of young people cited ‘Health care that meets my needs’ as a priority. 65 per cent of young people listed "Better mental health support" as an initiative that would help them live healthier lives.
The second priority is to improve access to affordable housing. Young people noted issues, including the cost of renting, prevalence of couch surfing and homelessness. 32 per cent of young people listed ‘Access to affordable housing’ as an initiative that would improve their town and surrounding areas.
The $40 million package is part of the NSW Government’s record investment in regional youth through the 2022-23 NSW Budget.
Applications for the Regional Youth Investment Program are now open and will close at 10am, October 4, 2022.
For further information on the ‘Our Region, Our Voice’ Regional Youth Investment Program, visit www.nsw.gov.au/regionalyouthinvestmentprogram