Employment and education should be on the government’s agenda according to Youth Support and Advocacy Service Gippsland community manager Chris May.
Ms May said the closure of Hazelwood Power Station has had a big effect on families and young people across the Latrobe Valley.
“The impact it’s had on the intergenerational structure of the Valley already is severe,” Ms May said.
“We saw this occur with the State Electricity Commission where many people who left… at the time were never employed again.
“For the Valley we have four times the state average for family violence, unemployment is very high and there’s limited employment opportunities for young people. We need more options.”
Ms May said the government should consider diversifying the likes of local training organisations to offer more agricultural-based studies in the wake of the power sector’s uncertain future.
“We’ve never really explored other areas like agriculture here in the Valley, we need to look outside the square and move away from power and out onto the land,” Ms May said.
“Why can’t we build up agriculture to support young people with farming and that type of work and promote more appropriate services that are in demand?”
Ms May said it was important to provide alternate education and look at ways to reduce decades of unemployment across the region.
“I’ve spoken to contractors of Hazelwood and they are really concerned that they won’t be able to get that type of employment again and will have to reskill,” Ms May said.
“There’s some young people who won’t be able to find employment because there’s limited opportunities to diversify their skills. The government needs to step in and help us out.”
YSAS Gippsland, headed by Ms May, offers a youth specific drug treatment agency and an early intervention program partnered with Victoria Police to help keep young people out of the justice system.