Richard Colbeck, Australia's New Minister For Youth, Is 61 Years Old
Senator Richard Colbeck has joined the Morrison cabinet as Minister for Youth -- a portfolio that hasn't existed in government since 2013.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has reinstated the position of Minister for Youth, more than five years after the portfolio was first scrapped by Tony Abbott.
Colbeck, 61, who previously held the position of Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, has now been promoted to the position.
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Colbeck was first elected to Parliament in 2001 and has worked in lower-level roles across multiple portfolios, including Agriculture, Health, Innovation, and Fisheries and forestry.
Colbeck briefly lost his seat in 2016 but managed to return to the Senate in 2017 after Stephen Parry was forced out in a certain dual-citizenship catastrophe.
A supporter of Malcolm Turnbull during the LNP's leadership crisis, Colbeck is recognised as a more 'moderate' member of the party.
In a statement released Sunday, Colbeck said that he is "delighted to take on the role of Minister for Youth to support Australia's next generation to make the most of the exciting opportunities our country has in coming years."
The Minister also said he hoped to work closely with youth Health Minister Greg Hunt to address youth mental health issues.
Australian Youth Affairs Coalition (AYAC) chairperson Katie Acheson told 10 daily that the reinstatement of the portfolio was a "victory" and "shows the intention of the government to prioritise young people".
AYAC have been encouraging the government to increase focus on youth issues since 2014, when Abbott cut not only the ministerial portfolio but also funding to peak bodies for young people.
The organisation said that this move single-handedly erased "three decades of government and non-government investment in young people".
Federal Member for Mayo, Rebekha Sharkie has also campaigned for the reinstatement of a Youth Minister and is enthusiastic about Colbeck's new position in the cabinet.
"Prior to entering politics I held a national role in youth sector so I knew that young Australians struggle to engage with politics and government in general," Sharkie said.
High youth unemployment rates (currently trending around 12 percent), high rates of mental health issues and suicide, debt from education, and a lack of connection to viable future jobs based on current skills, are all cited as major problems for the youth of Australia.
Sharkie said that Colbeck will need to focus in particular on "underemployment, which has been steadily rising for decades across the board but now stands at nearly 20 percent of young people want to work more".
Acheson said AYAC are optimistic about the portfolio despite Colbeck's age.
"He seems pretty eager to engage with young people and find out what's happening," Acheson said.
Anyone who is "dedicated to hearing from young people is great", she added.
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