The Albanese Labor Government has put a hold on $21.6 million in COVID-19 recovery support for school students under the Coalition-established Emerging Priorities Program.
It is now well documented that COVID-19 has had an impact on mental health and educational outcomes across Australia and these impacts are continuing.
Earlier this year, the Coalition Government announced $21.6 million in funding for 36 grants to support young people to get back on track.
But these grants are now in limbo, with the Labor Government casting doubt on $21.6 million set to benefit schools, not-for-profit organisations and local communities.
This is affecting the South West community according to the Federal Member for Forrest and Shadow Assistant Minister for Education, Nola Marino.
“We know there are ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on our young people both across Australia and here in the South West, especially on their mental health. That’s why we committed this vital funding when in Government,” Mrs Marino said.
“Up to a thousand schools across Australia were set to benefit from this funding through professional learning delivered through Donnybrook-based professional service provider, RYPPLE (Raising young people in positive learning environments),” she said.
“RYPPLE is just one of the 36 grant recipients under the Emerging Priorities Program, now stalled with Labor at the helm,” Mrs Marino said.
“Organisations like RYPPLE applied in good faith through a competitive grants process in January 2022 and the announced successful recipients were planning to implement their projects,” Mrs Marino explained.
The Emerging Priorities Program was established by the former Coalition Government in the 2020-21 Budget to support flexible responses to school education priorities, such as the impacts to education and student wellbeing caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The grant round to provide COVID-19 recovery funding was open through the Australian Government Community Grants Hub between January and February 2022, with more than 600 applications received.
The Mission Australia Youth Survey 2021 reported that:
• 62.3% of young people aged 15-19 surveyed said COVID had a negative impact on their education; and
• 50.3% of young people aged 15-19 surveyed said COVID had a negative impact on mental health.