Recently our city received a federal budget that undoubtedly leaves us with some challenges. My government has responded to many of these challenges in our budget which will be delivered tomorrow, but many effects will continue to be felt over the longer term.
Talking to a wide range of business and community members over the last couple of weeks, I have heard concerns about the impact of cuts on housing, education, health, income support and employment. One of the impacts I am most worried about is a potential rise in youth unemployment.
While the ACT Government does deliver a range of programs and services targeted towards our most vulnerable and in need young people aged between 12-25, when I met with representatives of young people in community at one of our federal budget roundtables, it was clear that we needed to not only be focused on providing support and help when things get rough – but to take positive steps which open up doors for young people.
As a start, tomorrow we will announce the start up of a Young Business Connect program which will see $300,000 provided to assist young entrepreneurs to develop ideas for establishing new local businesses. The support will include business planning and market development advice, connections to specialist advisors and business mentors and assistance in attracting start up funding.
And while this is just one step, I hope it will get our community and businesses start to think differently about the types of support our government is focused on delivering, and that we are keen to try new and innovative approaches to keeping Canberra strong.
This is a key theme of the ACT budget. It sits alongside our commitments to create jobs and activity in the economy by committing to infrastructure including a new public hospital, light rail and a new convention centre – all of which have been funded in this year’s budget. The budget is also funding projects that will see the direct employment of young people to get traineeships and apprenticeships and provide ongoing opportunities to get a trade and an education or skills that will not only benefit them, but will in turn also benefit our whole city.
My message to the Canberra business community and to our young people is the same. Let’s work together to build a positive story about your young people in this town and help them create their own opportunities to thrive. The 2014-15 Budget is just the start.