Labor promises $32 million to help save Ballarat's Highlands LLEN

Highlands LLEN executive officer Jannine Bennett is thrilled by the announcement.
Highlands LLEN executive officer Jannine Bennett is thrilled by the announcement.

BALLARAT'S most vulnerable youth could be saved by a $32 million Victorian Labor government promise to reinstate a recently cut learning and employment organisation. 

The election promise would see vital funding injected back into Highlands LLEN, a subsidiary of Local Learning and Employment Networks (LLENs), whose funding was cut in May's federal budget.

Highlands LLEN, which runs on a budget of less than $500,000 a year, provides crucial education, training and employment for some of Ballarat's most vulnerable youth.

Opposition spokesman for Higher Education, Skills and Apprenticeships Steve Herbert announced the funding in Ballarat on Friday. 

Highlands LLEN executive officer Jannine Bennett said she was thrilled by the announcement and that without it the group would be forced to cease operating from December 31.

"We are very excited about the announcement and I know there are many organisations and businesses in Ballarat who know about the work we do and would be very disappointed if we weren't around," she said.

"Without us, there would be absolutely no where else to go. It is such a crucial organisation in our community."

Ms Bennett estimated the group helped more than 500 Ballarat people, aged between 10 and 19, each year. 

"It really is everyone in our community in that age group who we help," she said. 

"There is nothing else like our organisation, for example we run careers expos and jobs and skills drives which are open to anyone in Ballarat."

She said the Liberal government had also been supportive of their quest for funding, adding she was surprised they were yet to make an announcement. 

Mr Herbert said the injection of $32 million over four years would support a resource which simply couldn't be lost. 

"LLENs are critical to communities right across Victoria," Mr Herbert said. 

"Denis Napthine has deserted young people in search of skills and employment. The services that matter to a young person wanting to get the skills they need for the job they want, have vanished.

"Labor's commitment will ensure that young people have access to a service that supports them in a time of high unemployment."

LLEN organisations have been operating in Victoria since 2001, with a state-wide network of 31 LLENs operating from 2002. 


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