Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke today met with young people and local youth workers at Henry Lawson High School to discuss better options for youth in regional NSW.

Today’s discussion is one of around 30 consultation sessions the NSW Government, in collaboration with the NSW Advocate for Children and Young People (ACYP) is undertaking across regional NSW  between July 23 and August 3 2018.

Ms Cooke said the NSW Government is aware of the challenges too often faced by young people in rural and remote areas and the consultations are the vital first step in helping to shape new policy options.

“We see huge opportunities to improve outcomes for young people across the Cootamundra electorate and in regional NSW,” Ms Cooke said.

“Thanks to the young people who gave us their time and their honest and open feedback today to help improve the lives of their peers across the state.

“We want to deliver appropriate and effective solutions to allow our young people to thrive at home in the Cootamundra electorate, and this forum opens up a direct line between children and local youth workers and government so we can work together to fill the gaps.”

Henry Lawson High School students Tyler Byron and Nikki Chalker attended the forum and said it was wonderful to have an opportunity to discuss the services available and what’s lacking in Grenfell.

“I thought today was great, my friends and I think if we could have more services like a PCYC here it’d be great, and now we’ve had this discussion it might actually happen,” Tyler said.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro said the NSW Government has long prioritised opportunities for young people, having established the NSW Office of the Advocate for Children and Young People in 2014.

“The NSW Government is focussed on outcomes for our regional communities and for our young people,” Mr Barilaro said.

“This year we introduced 100,000 free apprenticeships for young people and in April we committed an extra $13.9 million to provide 24/7 crisis beds and support for homeless youth – this consultation is an important next step to tackle the tough issues for young people in regional parts of NSW,” he said.

Information gathered directly by ACYP from over 4000 children and young people across regional NSW will complement these consultation sessions, said NSW Advocate for Children and Young People Andrew Johnson.

“This is another great example of where the NSW Government is listening to the voices of children and young people in NSW to ensure better outcomes,” Mr Johnson said.