The ACT government has committed $2 million to extending its public service graduate program in a bid to employ more young people over the next two years.
The funding boost is part of a new youth support package, aimed at addressing the economic impacts of COVID-19 on young people.
The government on Wednesday said it would employ roughly 120 public service graduates, cadets and apprentices over the next two years, as well as hundreds of young teachers, police, firefighters, ambulance officers, nurses, doctors and allied health professionals.
In partnership with the private sector, the government will also offer a six-month payroll tax exemption for businesses who take on new or additional apprentices or trainees. The exemption would apply to six months of wages for eligible employees recruited between August 1 2020 to January 31 2021, resulting in an estimated $2.2 million of foregone revenue.
To address the impacts of social isolation on young people during COVID-19, spending on targeted mental health support for young people will be increased by $250,000, building on the Mental Health Support Package announced in May.
The territory government noted that economic impacts of COVID-19 have disproportionately impacted young people.
“Younger Canberrans are more likely to have their employment prospects impacted by COVID-19. The ACT government recognises this and is implementing new policies to create and protect local jobs for younger Canberrans and ensure that people aren’t slipping through the cracks during this time,” it said in a statement.
“We know the pandemic isn’t over, and there is more work to do. We want to keep working every day to protect the health and livelihoods of our community – particularly those that are facing significant hardship.”
The government will also provide a $1.7 million package to support children, young people and their families, with:
- one-off payments of $300 for each child and young person in foster and kinship care, to support carers whose income may have been affected during COVID-19,
- an extended carer subsidy for young people in out of home care who turn 18 this year, to support their living expenses, housing costs, or to connect them with training and employment,
- funding to support young carers to meet additional expenses, maintain wellbeing and support educational participation,
- one-off grant payments to non-government service providers to assist with direct service delivery, brokerage and support for young people and their families to respond to increased demand for services.