Green scheme gets chop
YESTERDAY was the last time the EnviTE team would officially launch a National Green Jobs Corps Program after the Federal Government confirmed the scheme would be discontinued this year.
The program's final team of 10 volunteers gathered at Heritage Park in Lismore yesterday for the official launch of the last round of the program in the Northern Rivers.
The young volunteers had signed up to the 26-week scheme which will see them assisting Lismore City Council and Kyogle Shire Council in environmental regeneration and maintenance.
Participants will leave the program with a Certificate Two in Conservation and Land Management.
The program was an initiative of the federal Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations.
While the launch highlighted the benefits of the scheme, it also displayed the disappointment felt by many at the loss of the program.
EnviTE general manager Meg Nichols said it would be the first time in 20 years that a program like the National Green Jobs Corps would not be available.
"It seems to us to be illogical when there are climate change policies being implemented and the environment continues to be degraded," she said.
"The region has the highest biodiversity in NSW and third highest in Australia."
Ms Nichols said the program helped improve youth and indigenous youth unemployment, mental health and social networks.
Cameron Lee of Lismore is participating in the final program, which ends in June.
"Everything was either grass or trees before this but now I have an appreciation for the different species," he said.
Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell was hopeful the program would be reformed.
"I think they have achieved so much and I hope the government will return it and reform it," she said.
A department spokeswoman said the National Green Jobs Corps was always planned as a two-year program.
"The government will continue to invest in initiatives which support youth work experience, training and skills development in current economic and labour market conditions and to meet future needs after the cessation of National Green Jobs Corps," she said.
Envite has started an online petition in support of a proposal that the government reinstate a similar program in the future. Go to www.envite.org.au.