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New youth strategy finally flagged by State Govt

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The Marshall Government has begun developing a new youth strategy for South Australia, amid accusations that it has taken too long to fulfil the election promise.

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Minister for Human Services Michelle Lensink is today announcing she will convene a panel of young people aged 12 to 24-years old, as well as a taskforce of representatives from government and non-government agencies, to develop a three-year cross-government “Youth Action Plan”.

According to the Government’s YourSAy website, the action plan will outline how the Government can “achieve the best outcomes for young South Australians on the issues that most concern them”.

Topics to be covered in the plan include “learn and earn”, “connect and grow”, “wellbeing and the environment”, and “fairness and inclusion”.

“Young South Australians have been sharing their aspirations, passions, ideas and concerns, and we have been listening,” the YourSAy website states.

“State Government representatives have been identified and invited to form a task group for the Youth Action Plan development.”

According to the website, the task group will be tasked with providing “cross-government oversight”.

It will also work with the youth panel, to define the plan’s scope, and to advise on the best way to involve young people in the implementation of the strategy’s recommendations.

Also to be consulted are the Commissioner for Children and Young People, the Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People, the Guardian for Children and Young People, the Child Development Council and the Youth Affairs Council.

The Government anticipates that the plan will be finalised by the end of this year and implemented in 2020.

The previous youth strategy – developed under the former Labor Government – ended in March last year following the state election.

Lensink first announced her intention of developing a long-term youth strategy last year during a pre-election forum held by the Youth Affairs Council of South Australia (YACSA).

In a YACSA newsletter sent in February this year, chief executive Anne Bainbridge wrote: “The strategy was one of the commitments from the pre-election forum… last year and we had hoped to lead the process but have been informed that the department will progress the strategy with our input.”

In response to Bainbridge’s newsletter, InDaily asked Lensink’s office in February to provide further detail of the strategy, including who the Government intended to consult and the rationale behind it.

Lensink responded: “The strategy will look at new ways of supporting and providing services to young people in our state.

“It will also identify ways they can take advantage of opportunities including employment, education and community engagement.”

Asked in February if the Minister could provide further information about the strategy, a government spokesperson responded: “The Minister is keen to consult with all the relevant stakeholders and community first – but will keep you posted.”

Lensink wouldn’t provide comment to InDaily today, due to an agreement to provide the story first to another media outlet.

Shadow Human Services Minister Nat Cook told InDaily she was “looking forward to finally seeing what the action plan has to offer SA young people”.

“This has taken way too long,” she said.

“Young people and associated organisations are often reaching out to me with their very real concerns about training, employment and cost of living pressures as well as important social issues.

“I will hold the Government to account and do my best to ensure the action plan provides a fair deal for our young people and ensure the Government delivers and doesn’t let this process be another one of their talk fests.”

InDaily contacted Bainbridge for comment but she said she was unavailable.

Young people have until July 29 to nominate to take part on the youth panel.

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