youth employment

Innovative program helps reef and unemployed

Original article published on Australian Geographic 8 July 2015 by Chris Ashton

Unemployment is the biggest challenge faced by young Australians living in regional areas. The desire to work can be strong, but, as often is the case, it’s difficult to find full time employment without relocating to the capital cities.

According to recent statistics, the city of Cairns has a youth unemployment rate of around 20 per cent, over three times higher than the national average. To combat this social issue, and protect the fragile Great Barrier Reef marine environment in the process, one company has chosen to take matters into their own hands.

The Crown of Thorns Starfish Control Program, a government-funded project, is the result of a partnership between the peak industry body, Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators (AMPTO), and private marine consultancy firm Gempearl.

This program is taking long-term unemployed youth and training them to cull the environmental pest known as the crown of thorns starfish (COTS).

Trainees Bonnie Martin, Tarquin Singleton and Indi-Lee Banks. IMAGE CREDIT Simon Ceglinski

Trainees Bonnie Martin, Tarquin Singleton and Indi-Lee Banks. IMAGE CREDIT Simon Ceglinski

Innovative way to solve the crown of thorns problem

Cairns locals Col and Margie McKenzie created the program as a way of funding their mission to control the COTS population on the reef. These native sea creatures are responsible for 47 per cent of the coral loss on the reef over the last 27 years.

In the same way that plagues of locusts can devastate crops, COTS can consume vast areas of living coral when numbers are high. Adult starfish are capable of producing in excess of 60 million offspring per breeding season. To help restore balance, AMPTO are actively culling these pests on the reef.

From 200 applications received, just 12 candidates are selected for the program. Tarquin Singleton and Bonnie Martin, two of the program’s most recent trainee recruits, have undergone a fast-tracked dive training course, taking them from non-divers to experienced and qualified dive instructors in just six months.

To read the full article please click here.

Queensland students to get job-ready edge with Be Work Smart booklet

Media Statements:  Minister for Education and Minister for Tourism, Major Events, Small Business and the Commonwealth Games, The Honourable Kate Jones

Be Work Smart Dept of Education and TrainingA new booklet launched today at Rockhampton State High School will give Queensland jobseekers a competitive edge.

Education Minister Kate Jones and Training and Skills Minister Yvette D’Ath visited the school to tell students about Be Work Smart, a publication designed to help them “get the right job and keep it”.

Ms Jones said Be Work Smart was a valuable resource for high school students.

“This workbook will teach the skills to help students secure a job, whether that be a part-time job while they complete studies, an application for an apprenticeship or a first step into the full-time workplace,” she said.

Be Work Smart has resulted from extensive consultation with employers, training providers and schools and has been produced to improve the job-readiness of applicants in response to employer feedback.

Ms D’Ath said anyone looking to gain employment can benefit from working through the booklet.

“Every job a person applies for is an exam of a kind, and studying Be Work Smart gives jobseekers the tools to put their best foot forward,” Ms D’Ath said.

“The booklet is being distributed to schools subject to availability, and is available to download and print or work through online from

Rockhampton State High School Principal Kirsten Dwyer said Be Work Smart would be used as a classroom resource in the school’s senior grades.

“It will also be an essential tool for our guidance officer, teachers and transition officers who will be able to refer students to it when they come in seeking careers advice,” Ms Dwyer said.

Original media announcement can be found here.

Latest Roy Morgan research on rising youth unemployment shows link to depression, anxiety and stress

Roy Morgan has released their latest research into the rise of youth unemployment and what they see as a connection to mental health issues in young Australians.

 From 2010 to 2014, the number of young job seekers had nearly doubled and the added stress to find a job but also get their careers started were impacting their mental health.  The report found of those 18-24 year olds looking for work last year, 28% were found to have anxiety and over 41% were affected by stress.

Angela Smith, Group Account Director, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“The rise of youth unemployment in Australia is a huge source of concern, and the Federal Government needs to address it before it gets any more widespread.


“At this critical stage of a young person’s life and career, the failure to find a job can have serious implications on their self-esteem and general mental health. It is no coincidence that stress, anxiety, depression and even panic attacks have sky-rocketed in incidence over the past five years among 18-24 year olds as unemployment rises.


 “While these mental health conditions are affecting more Aussies of all ages, young Australians are being hardest hit. While 14.5% of the population were affected by depression last year, this shot up to one quarter of young job-seekers. Not only is this sad, it puts more pressure on our already stretched healthcare system.” 

For more information on the research, please contact Vaishali Nagaratnam via email at Roy Morgan or click here.

Unemployment surges to 12-year high in Australia

6.4 per cent –  youth jobless figure hits 14 per cent

Economists had expected an extra 13,000 new jobs in July, leaving the unemployment rate steady at 6 per cent, but total employment fell marginally while the pool of unemployed swelled to almost 790,000 people.

Michael Janda from ABC News has reported that Bureau of Statistics figures show the jobless rate has surged from June’s reading of 6 per cent to 6.4 per cent over last month. This is the worst reading since August 2002.

Young people have been particularly hard-hit, with unemployment for 15-24-year-olds hitting 14.1 per cent – the highest level since October 2001.

The jobless rate for the 15-19-year-old subset jumped even more to 20.4 per cent – the highest since April 1997 – and was 30.1 per cent amongst those looking for full-time work…


Michael has further reported that politicians are playing the ‘blame game’ over the rising jobless total with each side of politics blaming each other for the jobs figures released yesterday.

Employment Minister Eric Abetz admits the 6.4 per cent unemployment figure is a very high rate, and says he does not know when it will fall.

“As to when unemployment figures will turn around will depend on a host of factors, our task as a Government is not to predict the future,” he said.

Queensland, youth hit hardest


  • NSW: Unemployment up from 5.7 to 5.9 per cent; participation steady at 63 per cent.
  • Vic: Unemployment up from 6.6 to 7 per cent; participation up from 64.2 to 64.7 per cent.
  • Qld: Unemployment up from 6.3 to 6.8 per cent; participation down from 66.3 to 66.2 per cent.
  • SA: Unemployment down from 7.3 to 7.2 per cent; participation down from 62.8 to 62.3 per cent.
  • WA: Unemployment up from 5 to 5.2 per cent; participation steady at 68.4 per cent.
  • Tas: Unemployment steady at 7.5 per cent; participation up from 60.9 to 61 per cent.
  • NT: Unemployment up from 4.5 to 4.8 per cent; participation down from 74.8 to 74.4 per cent.
  • ACT: Unemployment up from 3.8 to 3.9 per cent; participation steady at 71.2 per cent.

Source: ABS. All data seasonally adjusted, except Tasmania, NT and ACT which are trend, due to small sample size.
The full story by Michael Janda can be read on ABC News

Join the discussion on Youth Unemployment at the Longterm Unemployment Conference to be held 18-19 August at the QT Gold Coast. It is paramount to Australia’s future to pull in our unemployment rate and reduce the impact on key at-risk groups.

The conference will address further, the causes and programs needed to provide opportunities for at other high risk groups: Disability, Mature Age,  Indigenous and Regional Unemployed.  It will focus on “Building Capability” to create employment in the future with over 50 presentations on research, policy, programs and case studies.