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Parliament of Victoria Inquiry into Retaining Young People in Rural Towns and Communities

Media Release: Should I stay or should I go? Giving Rural Young People A Real Choice

- 3 October 2006 -

IMPROVING access to education, training, transport and employment opportunities in rural areas are key to the recommendations in a Parliamentary Inquiry into “Retaining Young People in Rural Towns and Communities” released today.

Ben Hardman, the Member for Seymour and chairman of the all party Rural and Regional Services and Development Committee said the committee was told that many young people who grow up in rural communities would like to stay if they were provided with a real choice.

“The recommendations in this report support a commitment to increasing information and opportunities available to young people in rural Victoria,” Mr Hardman said.

“We want to ensure that young people have the choice to stay or leave rural Victoria in order to lead a fulfilling life.”

The report also recommends improving support for young people from rural areas to assist them with staying connected to their communities if they leave for study, travel or work.

“For young people from rural areas, accessing higher education or a job often means having to leave all that is familiar behind,” Mr Hardman said.

“These are challenges their urban counterparts rarely have to face.”

Mr Hardman said the committee heard from a wide range of informative and inspirational young people and adults working with them.

The committee received more than 95 written submissions and found that many rural communities were concerned about having a balance of younger and older people.

“Many young people who spoke to the committee have allowed us to include their personal stories in the report and these stories highlight some of the challenges and opportunities for young people living in rural areas” he said.

“The recommendations in this report endeavour to give young people real choices,” Mr Hardman said

Mr Hardman said the Committee was impressed by the amount of interest generated in country communities by this inquiry and thanked all participants for their valuable contribution.

The RRSDC Members are:

Chair – Mr Ben Hardman MP, Member for Seymour
Deputy Chair – Mr Craig Ingram MP, Member for Gippsland East
Mr Michael Crutchfield MP, Member for South Barwon
Hon John McQuilten MLC, Member for Ballarat Province
Hon Robert Mitchell MLC, Member for Central Highlands Province
Hon Dr Denis Napthine MP, Member for South-West Coast
Mr Peter Walsh MP, Member for Swan Hill

Ben Hardman
Chair

Media Contact:

Lilian Topic, Executive Officer, 0417 322 053.

For more details, including a copy of the report, phone (03) 9651 3580 or 1300 787 200 (Victoria only) for the cost of a local call.