Nationals in Government giving our young people at seat at the Cabinet Table.

The most important challenge facing the future of country NSW is creating opportunities for our young people. It’s harder to be a young person in regional NSW than in Sydney. Access to support services, health services, training and employment opportunities and transportation is fewer compared to regional and city centres.

Sadly, our regions experience higher rates of youth suicide, greater battles with ice and illicit drugs, and youth unemployment rates that remain far too high, with many leaving their hometowns to find work in the cities.

The net impact on our regional towns is immense. Our local towns are losing the very people they need to sustain them in the future.

The Nationals are putting our young people first. We want more local opportunities, and better targeted support to ensure our young people have the best chance to have a great life in regional NSW.

We will deliver a more comprehensive and coordinated approach to better support our young people with NSW’s first Regional Youth Strategy.

To coordinate the strategy, the Nationals in Government will appoint a Minister for Regional Youth who will be another voice in Cabinet dedicated to champion on behalf of regional youth and our communities. Supported by the dedicated Department of Premier and Cabinet’s Office of Regional Youth, the Minister will be responsible for Regional Youth Strategy.

We will also establish a Regional Youth Taskforce to help deliver the Strategy and provide practical solutions that lead to meaningful change. The Taskforce will made up of community champions with a proven record of delivering innovative and meaningful programs across regional NSW.

We are also supporting local solutions to local needs, by committing at least 50 per cent of the next round of the Stronger Country Communities Fund to projects that support young people.

The Nationals in Government will:

•Appoint a Minister for Regional Youth.

•Establish the Regional Youth Taskforce, a mixture of grassroots community leaders and youth specialists to provide grassroots advice to the new Minister.

•Establish the Office of Regional Youth within the Department of Premier & Cabinet.

•Commit at least $50 million, that’s 50 per cent of the next round of the Stronger Country Communities Fund, to projects that support young people. This could be supporting local youth centres, PCYCs, sporting clubs or community colleges.

•Deliver NSW’s first Regional Youth Strategy, to ensure regional youth services support local solutions.