The ACT Government is committed to listening to the young people in our city, opening channels to ensure they can shape future policies that affect them.
Our Youth InterACT initiative engages and empowers young people through scholarships, grant programs, ACT Youth Week, the ACT Youth Advisory Council and the ACT Youth Assembly.
Youth InterACT provides a platform for young people to have their voices heard and encourages young people from a range of backgrounds and experiences to engage and contribute to the ACT community.
Keeping our young people healthy, active and engaged is critical to social inclusion and ensuring our young people continue to make their valued contributions to the Canberra community.
We are expanding the School Youth Health Nurse Program to cover all ACT public secondary schools.
We are supporting It’s Your Move, which enables high school students to develop creative health solutions in schools using the curriculum program.
We have invested $1.3 million to rollout the Meningococcal ACWY school vaccination program to all year 10 students, and to young people aged 15 to 19 through GPs.
Youth mental health
The ACT Government’s territory-wide mental health service reform, from prevention and early intervention through to rehabilitation and recovery, is about targeting the right services for the level of need.
Through the Office for Mental Health and Wellbeing, the coordination and mapping of mental health services is rapidly underway, particularly through the Mental Health Work Plan. The Office has a whole of government focus on mental health to improve service coordination and ensure Canberrans get the care they need, when they need it.
To support young people with mental health and substance use problems, we provide the recovery-focused Adolescent Mobile Outreach Service for 12-18 year olds experiencing severe mental illness, and we are investing $1.6 million to expand Headspace, which provides evidence-based early intervention services to 12–25 year olds.
Blueprint for Youth Justice
Under the Blueprint for Youth Justice in the ACT 2012–2022, we are working to reduce young people’s contact with the youth justice system and providing early support for vulnerable children and young people to reduce the likelihood of offending later in life.
In 2018 - 19, the Blueprint for Youth Justice Taskforce completed a comprehensive review of progress to date and priorities for the final four years of the strategy. Between 2011-12 and 2017 - 18, the number of young people under youth justice supervision decreased by 27 per cent, and the number in detention fell by 17 per cent. To continue to improve outcomes for young people, our priorities include developing early support for young people in the middle years (8-13 years), delivering better support for young people with disability or mental health concerns and working to reduce the intergenerational impact of offending.
The ACT’s Bimberi Youth Justice Centre is the first in Australia to comply with Human Rights requirements. It accommodates children and young people aged 10 - 21 who have been refused bail or are sentenced to a period of detention by the Children’s Court or Supreme Court of the ACT. Young people at Bimberi attend school at the Murrumbidgee Education and Training Centre and are supported by staff who are trained to work with young people to facilitate their rehabilitation.
Training and skills
The ACT Government delivers a wide range of training and skills development programs so all Canberrans can gain qualifications that lead to rewarding jobs. Growing Canberra’s skills base also ensures we have the right workers to meet our city’s needs now and into the future.
Last year, the ACT Government supported around 16,300 apprentices and trainees to study while working, leading to a nationally recognised qualification. Of these, nearly 8,300 apprentices and trainees were supported through the ACT Government’s User Choice program.
This included places for over 700 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and around 1,900 students with disability.
Initiatives such as Future Skills for Future Jobs, the Industry Engagement Strategy, and Australian Apprenticeship Support Package will support the growth of our knowledge economy by diversifying the availability of, and engagement with, vocational education and training in the ACT. These initiatives focus on addressing workforce development issues and future skills needs, and minimising financial barriers to starting or completing an apprenticeship or traineeship.
Other initiatives with ongoing support include:
- ACT Youth Week Grants, providing funding for innovative new projects for young people, by young people. In 2019 we have funded fifteen organisations and individuals to deliver projects including a camp, talent competitions, photography and dance events and a movie night.
- The ACT Youth Advisory Council, advising the Minister for Children, Youth and Families on matters relating to young people. In August 2018 the Council facilitated the ACT Youth Assembly with young people in the ACT Legislative Assembly chamber forming recommendations for the ACT Government.
- Youth InterACT Grants, providing young people aged 12 - 25 with funding to organise projects, events, activities and programs that benefit other young people in the ACT.
- Youth InterACT Scholarships, providing funding of up to $500 for individual young people to participate in activities such as sports competitions, conferences, and personal or career development opportunities.