SPEAKING OUT: Acting Minister for Education Kate Jones.
SPEAKING OUT: Acting Minister for Education Kate Jones. Trish Bowman

Educators debunk Keith Pitt's big claim about school kids

ACTING Education Minister Kate Jones has attacked Hinkler MP Keith Pitt's claim there are students in the region whose aspiration is to go on the dole.

Ms Jones said the claim, made by Mr Pitt on Sky News last week, was part of his response to justify the introduction of the "unpopular" Cashless Debit Card, which will be rolled out in Bundaberg later this month.

She joined a chorus of educators and union representatives who voiced their disappointment in his claim.

"National Party leadership aspirant Keith Pitt should be ashamed of himself for calling local kids lazy welfare kings and queens," Ms Jones said.

"He knows that his cashless welfare card trial is unpopular and that there isn't any evidence that it works - so his solution has been to call local high school students lazy and blame them for a problem that does not exist."

Ms Jones's office provided data which showed 84.2 per cent of Bundaberg's 2017 Year 12 graduates were entering either higher education, traineeships or employment. The figure is close to the state average.

However the report also shows the percentage of graduates seeking work was about 13 per cent, well above the state average. Meanwhile the number of graduates not in the labour force, employment or training was above 3 per cent, again above the state average.

>> READ MORE: Data shows government failing to provide employment for school-leavers

Mr Pitt yesterday stood by his comments, saying he was "relaying things that are said to me in confidence". He said the issue had been raised with him a number of times.

In his Sky interview, Mr Pitt said the Hinkler region was seeing issues with intergenerational welfare dependence.

"For those who are under 30, on Newstart, 90 per cent of those - 90 per cent - have one parent or more on unemployment benefits in the last 15 years, the majority for nine out of 15 years and the worst part of this is for those kids under 30, 57 per cent will still be on welfare in 10 years time," Mr Pitt said.

Mr Pitt said change in any form was always difficult, "but doing nothing is not an option".

About 6000 people under the age of 35 will be impacted when the controversial card rolls out on January 29.

Ms Jones isn't the only person airing their anger with Mr Pitt's comments.

Bundaberg educators Greg and Judy Thrupp wrote to the NewsMail to share their disappointment.

"We have been state high school teachers for over 70 years combined, and we have never heard a young person say their goal was to go on welfare," the couple wrote.

"Not surprising, since such a goal would mean living in poverty.

"You (Mr Pitt) defend the indefensible (the Cashless Debit Card) by denigrating the youth of our region."

Queensland Teachers' Union deputy general secretary Kate Ruttiman said she couldn't recall ever having a teacher come to her with similar concerns.

"Every school teacher and school leader invests their time assisting students towards positive Year 12 outcomes," Ms Ruttiman said.

"The data they provide indicates students are aspiring to enter into vocational education, work or go to university.

"I know teachers wouldn't be supporting students to go on the dole, they'd be providing opportunities to enter work or vocational education or further study to support them to be active and informed citizens."

Mr Pitt said it was "good" the Queensland Teachers' Union was "doing everything they can to provide opportunities for the local youth".

If teachers were confronted with a student wanting to go on welfare, Ms Ruttiman said they would work with that student to achieve their true goals.

"They (teachers) can and will direct students with positive self worth and image to enter the workforce or enter post-school study with a positive frame and future mindset," she said.

"The support people receive with unemployment benefits is about assisting them to find work, so its a short term means (of living)."



Boarded-up storefronts sound death knell for regional CBDs

premium_icon Boarded-up storefronts sound death knell for regional CBDs

Boarded-up storefronts sound death knell for regional CBDs.

Canadian tourist who blew .199 banned from driving

premium_icon Canadian tourist who blew .199 banned from driving

'other than that, have a good time while you're here': Magistrate