• Media Release

A Shorten Labor Government will invest $120,000 for the University of Newcastle to deliver a pilot project to open up the world of higher education to kids in out of home care.

This election will be a choice between a united Shorten Labor Government which will reverse the Liberals’ education cuts and properly fund our universities, or more of the Liberals’ cuts and chaos.

Federal Member for Newcastle Sharon Claydon said the program would initially target participants in the Hunter, Newcastle and Central Coast regions.

“With about 10 per cent of young people in out of home care living in the Hunter, Newcastle and Central Coast regions, there is a dire need for greater support,” Ms Claydon said.

“Labor understands education is best way to help young people escape cycles of disadvantage and achieve their potential, and that’s exactly what this funding is about.”

Ms Claydon said 1,200 young people, case workers and carers were expected to engage with the program and its resources during a three-year pilot.

“In a unique model, current university students who have experience of out of home care will use their personal insights to help to design materials for young people currently in out of home care, their caseworkers and carers,” Ms Claydon said.

“These students will then be trained and paid to deliver training to children currently in care. This will have the dual benefit of giving them an income to support their studies and giving kids in care a mentor who understands the challenges they face.”

Ms Claydon said out of home care caseworkers and carers would also take part in training, so they are able to understand and communicate the options to young people.

“Around 84 per cent of out of home care students participating in an existing University of Newcastle program said that, while in out of home care, they couldn’t remember one person speaking to them about university as an option after care,” Ms Claydon said.

“Similar numbers said how helpful it would have been if their caseworkers and carers spoke to them about these options and the experiences of young people in care who have moved on to higher education.”

University of Newcastle Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Darrell Evans, said the program underlines the University’s commitment to creating equal educational opportunity for all.

“It’s vital that we provide as many people as possible the support they need to access a university education, and all the benefits that can bring,” Professor Evans said.

“Our University has a proud history of enabling access to education for people from diverse backgrounds and circumstances, and this innovative pilot program will build on that. By drawing on the real experiences of students who have received out-of-home care, we can provide meaningful, tailored support that will create lasting opportunities.” 

A Shorten Labor Government will also uncap university places and invest $3.2 billion into TAFE, university and skills training.

This election is a choice between Labor’s plan for increased investment in education or bigger tax loopholes for the top end of town under the Liberals.

If you want real investment in education, not more chaos – vote Labor.

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