I am writing to you to give you an update on the information we have collected so far in regard to the decision of the state government to cease funding the Get Set for Work program. As December is around the corner you might like to make representations to your local LNP members as well as the Minister for Education Training and Employment and Premier in regard to this matter.
The Education (General Provisions) Act 2006 places a statutory obligation on parents to ensure that their children participate in earning or learning activities when they are in the compulsory participation phase of their education. It also places a statutory obligation on young people to participate in earning or learning when they are in the compulsory participation phase. The Act has provisions for parents and young people to be fined if they do not comply with the legislation.
The Act also places an obligation on the state government to ensure that ‘employment skills development programs’ are provided. The Education (General Provisions) Act 2006 is complimented by the Vocational Education Training and Employment Act, which states in Section 106 C that the Chief Executive of the Department of Education Training and Employment must ensure that ‘employment skills development plans’ are available to meet the diverse needs of the young people in the compulsory participation phase and that they are accessible to these young people.
What is the State Government saying?
In correspondence with the Minister, Premier and Treasurer the reasons given by the government include:
• That the Education (General Provisions) Act 2006 does not oblige the government to provide such a program; and
• That the VETE Act states that provision of a departmental employment skills development program by the Queensland Government is optional.
• There are federally funded programs that are employment skills development programs;
• That employment programs are the responsibility of the Federal Government;
The legal advice we have received refutes these arguments. I include the points as follows:
• The Education(General Provisions)Act 2006 does not oblige the government to provide such a program, because there is complimentary legislation, the Vocational Education Training and Employment Act 2000 which clearly states that the Chief Executive must ensure employment skills development programs are available, accessible and meet the needs of a diverse range of young people;
• In the Vocational Education Training and Employment Act 2000 106C (3) states that the Chief Executive may provide employment skills development plans after 106C (1) and (2) which states the Chief Executive must ensure employment skills development programs are available, accessible and meet the needs of a diverse range of young people.
Clause (3) means that the Department itself could provide them. In the instance of the Get Set for Work program the government chose to contract non government organisations to deliver the program.
• The Get Set for Work Program is not just an employment program, but also is a vocational education and training program for which the state government is responsible to provide. The state’s role in providing vocational education and training is set out in the Vocational Education and Training (Commonwealth Powers) Act 2012 in Section 4 (2).
Where are we up to?
(1) We have written to the Minister for Education Training and Employment to ask how his government intends to ensure that the remaining Employment Skills Development Plans funded by your government assists him to fulfil his statutory duty to ensure that these employment skills development programs are accessible and meet the diverse needs of young people in Queensland. Examples of these gaps include:
• There are many young people in Queensland who do not receive a service from the Youth Connections Program.
• Similarly the model of service delivery of the Job Services Australia services does not meet the needs of highly disadvantaged young people, which were supported by the Get Set for Work program.
• Young people from New Zealand fall within the ambit of the Education (General Provisions) Act 2006 compulsory participation phase however they are not able to access federal employment support programs.
(2) The E Petition had 1772 signatures in two weeks. The petition has been tabled in Parliament on 27 November and the Minister must respond by the 7 January 2013.
(3) YANQ is meeting with Hon Peter Garrett today to discuss what action the Federal Government can take to ensure the future of these young people in the compulsory participation phase.
(4) I spoke to David Lucas, the Director of Skills and Employment in the Department of Education Training and Employment. He said that in 2013 they will be consulting with providers about the gaps that have emerged as a result of the Get Set for Work Program ceasing. They are looking to work with the Federal Government to improve their employment services for young people. I did point out to him that by the time they consult most of the employees who have detailed knowledge of the program will no longer be available to be consulted.
What can you do? Please stay active!
(1) Write to your local LNP Members using this information. Please make them accountable for this decision.
(2) Ring David Lucas 3224 6222 in the Department and speak to him about the many gaps that will appear in your community now, whilst you still have your staff.
(3) Write to the Minister and ask him how he sees that the federal programs will be accessible and meet the diverse needs of the young people in the compulsory participation phase.
Thanks everyone -