COMMUNITY RECOGNITION STATEMENT - Maitland Youth Express Links to Learning

Engaging young people who are disengaged or at risk of leaving school early is challenging. Maitland's Youth Express, which has supported vulnerable young people in the Hunter since 1993, has successfully engaged 60 students from Francis Greenway, Rutherford Technology, Maitland Grossmann, Kurri Kurri and Dungog High School through the Links to Learning program. The Links to Learning program is designed to assist young people to develop stronger and more positive ties to their local community.

The students in the program were tasked with creating 'youth homeless packs', filled with items that vulnerable teens require on a daily basis, such as hygiene products, school supplies, and home goods, which they then donated to the Samaritans to distribute. While the aim of the program was for the students to provide practical help to other struggling young people, such activities also gave them the opportunity to empathise with others, discuss issues of homelessness and other challenges and become empowered through their community service.

I congratulate Youth Express and the 60 students on their contribution, acknowledge the students' certificates of service, and thank all for their service to our community.