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REPORT CARD: How pollies respond to Fair Go For Our Kids

THE statistics are clear.

Fewer regional students will finish Year 12 and go to university than their Brisbane counterparts.

Regional kids are more likely to drop out of apprenticeships, use the drug ice and be overweight or obese.

Young people outside the capital are also more likely to suicide.

News Corp's regional daily newspapers launched the Fair Go For Our Kids campaign at the start of this election campaign.

Today we have ranked the response from the two major parties to those issues.

 

We asked them to explain what they were doing about some of the issues holding back kids and young people in our regional towns.

Here's what they had to say.

How will you ensure more regional Queenslanders obtain a Year 12 education?  

LABOR

Under our government, Queensland has the best retention rate in history - 85.8 per cent. We've worked hard to re-engage more than 4000 students and get them back into the education system after they were left behind by the LNP. We've made it so schools are responsible for every Year 12 student and report to the regional office on their attendance.

We've also employed child safety officers and coaches in every region whose job it is to work with kids at risk of dropping out of school. Our government has also had a targeted strategy to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students - closing the gap by retaining more students at state schools.

It was Tim Nicholls who ripped funding out of TAFEs and shut down schools. We've invested significantly in state schools across Queensland. Under the current budget, the Palaszczuk Government is spending $221 million on teaching STEM and information technology to students.

A re-elected Palaszczuk Government would invest an extra half a billion dollars in education infrastructure to build 10 new schools and refurbish 17 existing schools - the majority of which are in regional Queensland. We will also introduce a new system of senior assessment and tertiary entrance starting with Year 11s in 2019.

If re-elected we will implement a number of measures that will help further engage high school students in education. These measures include assisting people to transition from trades or professions like science into teaching, the rollout of an innovative science, technology, engineering and mathematics-focused curriculum as well as coding and robotics courses throughout Queensland schools. 

LNP

Under our education plan, we will ensure no child is left behind. Teachers will get better support in the classroom and children will get access to additional supports. The LNP we will invest every extra dollar of funding received through Gonski 2.0 directly to schools to boost student outcomes.  

The LNP is also investing an extra $8.5 million to deliver 100 science labs for primary schools to engage students earlier and keep them interested in this important area of education into secondary school. 

How will you keep young regional Queenslanders in apprenticeships? 

LNP

Last week we launched our comprehensive education plan which included $27.1 million in incentives for small businesses in regional Queensland to boost school-based apprenticeships. We committed to delivering an extra 5000 school-based apprenticeships over the next four years.

We have also announced our $100 million plan to Get Queensland Working, boosting apprenticeships by 10,000 over four years and improving completion rates through our Tools for Tradies program. 

LABOR

The Palaszczuk government is committed to ensuring the growth of apprenticeships and traineeships, to meet industry needs now and in the future. 

We've introduced a number of programs to support employers and encourage high quality training arrangements, including: 

*User Choice funding for apprentices and trainees;

*Back to Work package offering employers subsidies up to $20,000 for taking on a young trainee;

*Doubling the payroll tax rebate for businesses who take on employees or apprentices;

*$3.25 million for Group Training Organisations;

* Expansion of the Building and Construction Training Policy so that 15 per cent of all labour hours are carried out by trainees and apprentices;

* Specific programs in the Skilling Queenslanders for Work initiative, which we've committed to boosting by $180 million and extending to 2021. This program was cut by Tim Nicholls when he was Campbell Newman's treasurer and he has indicated he will cut it again.

* Funding for pre-apprenticeship programs for priority trades;

* An election commitment to spend $85 million upgrading key TAFE campuses to ensure they have state-of-the-art facilities

* Reinvigorating the traditional apprenticeship system, employing up to 40 new apprentices in the Department of Housing and Public Works Building and Asset Services.

How will you reduce the number of young regional Queenslanders turning to ice? 

LABOR

The Palaszczuk government is strongly committed to addressing the ongoing challenges of ice for young regional Queenslanders, their families and communities.

The government has responded with more funding, targeted service responses, workforce development and training, and community engagement and, on an annual basis, Queensland Health spends almost $130 million a year on drug and alcohol services across the state.  

The government has created new Drug and Alcohol Brief Intervention Teams that work with patients with drug and alcohol problems who are not currently in treatment at six key locations - Cairns, Gold Coast, Robina, Logan, Rockhampton, Townsville and Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital emergency departments. 

As one of her first announcements of the election campaign, the Premier allocated $16.4 million for alcohol and drug services across Queensland. Of this, $7.2 million was specifically for young people.  

Labor has also committed $14 million for a new drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility at Rockhampton. 

Labor will ensure ongoing funding of $14.9 million in annual funding for alcohol and drug programs will be continued when 16 existing programs come up for renewal in the next 18 months, whereas Tim Nicholls has said he will cut them. When Tim Nicholls was Campbell Newman's treasurer, the Queensland Government was the only Australian Government in history to cut mental health funding. 

LNP

The LNP has committed $31.71 million in funding for four new drug and alcohol rehabilitation centres across regional Queensland in Toowoomba, Sunshine Coast, Wide Bay and Cairns. We have also committed to a dedicated youth rehabilitation services and a fly-in fly-out remote rehabilitation support service. 

How will you reduce the number of young regional Queenslanders who are overweight or obese and reduce the risk of chronic disease? 

LNP

The LNP has committed to delivering an extra $26 million towards our Get in the Game boost and $18 million for free swimming for children aged one to four. 

LABOR

Young people in regional Queensland will benefit from the Palaszczuk government's My Health for Life diabetes and chronic disease prevention program, which is being rolled out across the state.

The program, with funding of $27.4 million over four years, helps adults identified as being at high risk of developing chronic disease such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and some cancers.

However, young people will benefit as well. Children's health starts in the home. It is important that parents and carers are healthy as they are a child's first teacher in life and play a significant role in maintaining their overall health.

Participants in the My Health for Life program are not only becoming healthier themselves but teaching their children and families healthy habits. We want to build healthy communities so everyone benefits.

The program provides participants with the motivation and support needed to adopt and maintain healthy lifestyle behaviours such as eating a healthier diet, increasing physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight, reducing alcohol consumption and quitting smoking. 

Young Queenslanders can access the My Health for Life program online to check their health risk factors and get great support to make healthy changes in their lives.

The government has also implemented a range of other initiatives including menu labelling for fast food, healthy indigenous communities projects, Country Kitchens, Jamie's Ministry of Food, and the 10,000 steps program to help people eat more healthily and exercise more.

A further major preventive health initiative that the Government remains committed to is setting up a public health commission to tackle Queensland's high obesity and chronic disease rates by supporting children, young people and families to adopt a healthy lifestyle.

Earlier this year, the Government introduced legislation to establish and operate the Healthy Futures Commission. In particular, it was planned that the commission would focus on reducing childhood obesity and increasing levels of physical activity of Queenslanders across the board.  

What will you do to better support the mental health of young regional Queenslanders and reduce the suicide rate?

LABOR

The government is rebuilding and expanding intensive mental healthcare services for young people across the state after three years of LNP cuts and neglect.

In this year's Budget the Government allocated nearly $140 million in new capital infrastructure for mental health - the biggest capital investment in a decade.

Work will begin next month on a new $68 million, 12-bed adolescent mental health facility at The Prince Charles Hospital. This follows the closure of the Barrett Adolescent Centre by the Newman-Nicholls LNP Government without a replacement facility and against expert advice.

The investment includes a full replacement of the Cairns mental health unit, and we are also adding 30 mental health beds across Gladstone, Mackay and Bundaberg. 

In 2015 the government released the first Suicide prevention strategy from a Queensland Government in many years, setting our goal to cut the rate by 50 per cent within 10 years. 

Labor will continue the $9.6 million suicide prevention in health services initiative, the most significant suicide prevention initiative in Australia.  

That includes the establishment of the Queensland Suicide Prevention Health Taskforce, an Australia-first initiative which focuses on strengthening the capacity of frontline health workers across both the public and primary care sectors to respond to the needs of people at risk of suicide 

Labor also will ensure that $70 million worth of existing mental health services will be maintained when 76 existing programs come up for renewal in the next 18 months, whereas Tim Nicholls has said he will cut them. 

LNP

The LNP is delivering an additional $3 million to local community mental health services across Queensland to support such initiatives as Men's Sheds and suicide prevention services.

Do you believe you have done enough to address these issues?  

LNP

No - Labor have done nothing for three years which is why regional Queenslanders are doing it tough under a Brisbane-centric Palaszczuk Labor Government.

LABOR

Queenslanders know that Labor Governments support health and education services. Unlike the LNP, we have employed more nurses, more doctors and more teachers. We have introduced nurse-to-patient ratios to better protect ratios.

We will continue to listen to Queenslanders and stakeholders and implement appropriate improvements when they're needed. That's why the choice Queenslanders make on Saturday will be so important - it is a choice between a Labor government that will continue to deliver health and education services or a Tim Nicholls/One Nation government that will deliver cuts and chaos.

Topics:  apprenticeships education fairgoforourkids labor lnp qldelection2017

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