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News April 21, 2021

The Push and Youth Affairs Council campaign for funding boost to FReeZA program

The Push and Youth Affairs Council campaign for funding boost to FReeZA program

Youth music organisation The Push and the Youth Affairs Council Victoria (YACVic) are lobbying the Victorian Government to increase funding for its FReeZA youth development program.

The FReeZA program was launched in the ’90s and gives Victorians aged 12-25 from a range of diverse backgrounds the chance to attend supervised drug, alcohol and smoke-free events. According to the program website, up to 400 events are programmed each year and more than 150,000 people attend.

The two organisations are pushing the government to increase FReeZA’s funding to $5.6 million per annum over the next four years, claiming the program hasn’t seen a funding boost in more than a decade, even in line with the consumer price index. If successful, the program could include more opportunities for young people to attend events, increase paid employment, and offer greater scope for youth workers.

“With the devastating impact of COVID-19 on young people and the contemporary music sector, the Victorian Government must act now and evolve FReeZA to ensure our creative state’s vibrant ecosystem exists and can be accessed by the next generation of young music makers, audiences and industry professionals,” The Push CEO Kate Duncan said in a statement.

“With the work currently being undertaken by the Victorian Government through the new Creative State Strategy and Youth Strategy, we believe that now is the time to evolve FReeZA and ensure a future program model can remain relevant and sustainable.”

YACVic CEO Katherine Ellis also noted the program is relied upon to “empower young people to design, lead and participate in events, entertainment and music in their local community”.

“Young people in the creative industries have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, so we must ensure in our ongoing recovery to a COVID Normal world that young people have adequate pathways and up-to-date programs to enter the arts, music and creative industries.”

For its #EvolveFReeZA campaign, past and present participants are being encouraged to support the cause and share their experiences with the program.

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