Work of LLENs under threat

The new head of Central Grampians LLEN James Skene. Picture: PETER PICKERING

The new head of Central Grampians LLEN James Skene. Picture: PETER PICKERING

REGION - The work of the Central Grampians Local Learning and Employment Network and community networks that have been built in the past 10 years are at risk of being lost if government funding isn't improved according to new chief executive officer James Skene.

A review is currently underway into the delivery of the services that LLENs provide, along with other branches of the non-profit organisation across Australia.

Mr Skene said funding is the biggest issue and it is hoped that both the Federal and State governments will offer stabilisation to all LLENs during the proposed restructuring of the funding model.

"It is quite a complicated issue and the reality is no one knows what is going to happen," he said.

"No one has been told, so we are in the dark a little. Obviously there are going to be major changes to all levels of this industry, but we don't know what they are going to be - who are we going to be responsible for and report to or even worse case scenario are we going to exist?

"As far as forward planning goes, it creates difficulties, but it doesn't mean you don't do it. We just have to look at it and realise that we may not be able to do everything that we'd hoped to."

Mr Skene said the CGLLEN offers a variety of programs to children in the community that teaches general life skills and provides them with confidence and ownership.

He said since its inception the company has formed strong bonds with local schools, police and service groups in the community.

"LLENs have been going now for 12 to 14 years and they have built up a lot of experience and a lot of contacts, that's what they do best, they build networks," Mr Skene said.

"If that is limited or taken away, what is going to replace it?

"There are lots of programs around the Grampians region like On Ya Bike, the Learner Driver and other mentoring programs that these guys have been working on for quite a while.

"There is a possibility that they might not exist anymore and that is sad for the kids who are just getting into them and relying on them.

"I was told that there is a waiting list for kids wanting to get into the On Ya Bike program, so obviously it has got to grow."

LLEN leaders from across Western Victoria have been conversing in recent months, with reports being prepared to send to ministers as the review progresses.

Mr Skene said he has also been in touch with the Northern Grampians Shire and Ararat Rural City councils and hopes to work closely with officers to ensure support continues.

"The aim this year is to build on these programs, make sure they are self-sustaining and can keep going," he said.

"We are continuing to also look at new ideas for programs as well."

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