A GREEN Jobs Corps graduation ceremony was held for the last time in Mackay today with the federally-funded conservation training program being scrapped by the Gillard Labor government.
The programme was that successful in this region that not one graduate of the program was able to attend the small ceremony as they all had secured jobs that they now have to attend.
Federal Member for Dawson George Christensen attended the event which showcased the work that the graduating team had undertaken over the past six months.
Such work included planting about 73,000 trees, removing almost 50,000m2 of weeds and 100kg of rubbish. The graduates also helped mulch over 1000m2 of green waste and monitored four coastal sites over the duration of the National Green Jobs Corps program.
Mr Christensen said the program should be retained because of the positive impact it had both on young people seeking work and the environment.
“The Gillard Labor government is forcing a costly and pointless carbon tax on us but at the same time cutting practical environmental programs like the National Green Jobs Corps,” Mr Christensen said.
“The good work that is being done for the local environment through this program may possibly grind to a halt and there will be no alternative federal scheme to get young job seekers active and involved in team work.”
Those comments were shared by National Green Jobs Corps Team Leader Jude Wood, who told those present at the graduation ceremony that she was disappointed the program was ending.
Ms Wood said a lot of the young people who were involved in the program had been disadvantaged in some way and the National Green Jobs Corps program was a platform to get them back on track.
Conservation Volunteers regional manager Caitlin Davies also spoke of the continuing need for a conservation training program for jobseekers in the region at the ceremony.
Mr Christensen said the Liberal National Coalition had introduced the Green Corps program (which the National Green Jobs Corps was modelled on) and would establish a similar but improved Green Army program if it was elected to office.
In the Mackay region, the National Green Jobs Corps program has been run by Conservation Volunteers in conjunction with the Sarina Landcare Catchment and Management Association.
The program’s aim has been to “get them outside and get them qualified.”