Education | January 11, 2022

Local schools cut from Advance program funding

The Andrews Labor Government has removed the Edenhope, Balmoral K-12 and Goroke P-12 Colleges from the list of schools to receive Advance program funding in 2022. All three Colleges have been successfully conducting the program, with Edenhope running it for the past 16 years.

The Advance program provides Victorian secondary school students with an opportunity to volunteer and get involved in their local communities while developing practical teamwork, leadership, communication, and project management skills.

The funding helps schools connect young people to a range of projects including conservation programs; getting involved with emergency services and animal welfare projects.

The Department of Families, Fairness and Housing have rescoped the program and are going to reallocate funds, with their justification being to “better target support for disadvantaged young people whose needs have been significantly exacerbated by the impacts of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic”.

The Nationals Member for Lowan Emma Kealy raised the matter in Parliament last month in a Question to the Minister for Youth, demanding funding be reinstated to the three colleges.

“To give some perspective, Edenhope is within the cross-border region with South Australia. Their nearest service centre is Naracoorte, about half an hour away in South Australia. During the border closures between Victoria and South Australia these students have been cut off from so many supports. They have been cut off from their friends and family. Many students play sport in South Australian leagues and they have not been able to participate. It has been very difficult to even go and get a medical appointment across the border – they have not been able to do so.

“These kids deserve Advance funding as much as kids in Melbourne. They have been significantly impacted by the COVID pandemic because they have been locked down for longer that anywhere else, even though they have not had a case,” Ms Kealy said.

The Minister for Youth has advised that the 2022 program will target the 150 most disadvantaged government secondary school campuses in Victoria, ensuring that all young people have similar opportunities to expand their skills and gain leadership experience as their peers across the state.

“How can the Minister say “all young people will have similar opportunities” when Edenhope, Balmoral and Goroke colleges have had their funding cut?” Ms Kealy said.

“I urge the minister to stand up for these students who have been deeply impacted by the COVID pandemic, deeply impacted by COVID restrictions and reinstate the Edenhope, Balmoral and Goroke colleges in the list of schools to receive Advance program funding in 2022.

“It has never been needed more.”

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