A round-table meeting including the region’s community leaders will be held to discuss ways to tackle the Hunter’s youth unemployment crisis, if Labor candidate for Paterson Meryl Swanson is elected on July 2.
Ms Swanson made the election commitment on Saturday during a visit to Maitland by Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek.
It came a week before the deadline for voters to have their say, as the Hunter’s youth unemployment problem continues to go unabated.
Unemployment in the Hunter, outside Newcastle, has been among the highest in Australia for several months – up around the 20 per cent mark.
Latest figures show youth unemployment in the Hunter sits at 18.9 per cent, which Ms Swanson described as “disastrous”.
Ms Swanson and Ms Plibersek met with Youth Express CEO Julie Eldridge, Mai-Wel Group CEO Pennie Kearney and Alliance People Solutions strategic partnerships director Camilla Nalder at the Maitland Youth Express office on Saturday.
“Mr Turnbull likes to talk about the new economy and innovation,” Ms Plibersek said.
“But you can’t have innovation without education.
“All the Liberals have done is slash funding from TAFE, apprenticeships, and schools. Our young people deserve so much better.
“Since the Liberals were elected in 2013, Paterson has had one of the biggest increases in unemployment.”
Ms Swanson a round-table would give youth employment service providers a chance to discuss which strategies had been working and where policy changes and more resources were needed.
“Tackling youth unemployment and ensuring we have effective, well-funded services will be a key priority for me if I’m chosen to represent our region,” she said.
A statement from Ms Swanson’s office noted that the round-table meeting would occur half yearly and participants would work on plans and initiatives to promote job growth and opportunities for young people.
The statement said the round-table would bring together employment, education, training and youth employment services from across the region.