Oakeshott on high youth unemployment in Coffs Harbour: "We can fix this. I've done it before." | Rob Oakeshott | Independent for Cowper |
Independent candidate for Cowper, Rob Oakeshott, says this week's report from the Brotherhood of St Laurence showing Coffs Harbour's youth unemployment rate at 23.3% highlights an urgent problem — but one he is confident he has the experience to deal with.
(Image courtesy of Brotherhood of St Laurence Youth Unemployment Monitor)
"When almost one in four young people are out of work and looking for a job, it just has to be Coffs Harbour's number one priority," said Mr Oakeshott.
"The area has more young people out of work than anywhere in Australia, apart from outback Queensland. And when you have Port Macquarie youth unemployment sitting at 8% and Coffs at more than 23% I think there are some deep questions that need to be asked."
"In the past Port Macquarie had high youth unemployment, up in the high teens. We dealt with it by bringing a range of local groups together — employment agencies, the business community, council, indigenous bodies, TAFE and other areas of education — as well as state and federal governments.," Oakeshott said.
"We sat down and had an authentic discussion around 'How did we get here and what are our options?'" We developed a plan, got a little money from the Federal government and it worked."
"I want the opportunity to do something similar in Coffs. It's a town that has great innovation, a start-up culture and fibre-to-the-premise. It should be the last place in Australia with an unemployment problem," said Oakeshott.
"My experience as an MP tells me that it's more about community than government. We can fix this. I've done it before. It's a bottom-up, not a top-down solution. It's harder to do it that way, but when you do it, it changes things."
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