A new program to reverse the damage from lockdowns on south-west school students has secured almost $1 million in funding from the federal government.
Member for Wannon Dan Tehan said the past two years had been especially tough on young people who had to make a "huge sacrifice to make sure the rest of the community has stayed safe".
"Often that means they've got disengaged. And this is all about making sure we can get that reconnection again," Mr Tehan said.
Beyond the Bell's executive officer Davina Forth said returning to school after two years at home had elevated the anxiety and stress levels for young people.
The group's chairman Francis Broekman said Reconnect Me was a collaborative partnership across a number of organisations which would help students find a pathway back either into school or into some form of other education or employment.
"It's a completely new program," he said.
"There's been two years now that many of the young people have had a very disrupted schooling."
Mr Broekman said they would "get in behind the schools" and support them bringing students back into the schools.
The $960,000 in funding was allocated in the federal budget under an expanded Safer Communities Fund and announced on Monday.
Mr Tehan said he was pleased that the funding would also improve community safety by helping divert local at-risk youth from a life of crime.
"All local residents deserve to feel safe, and all of our local young people should have the chance to achieve their full potential," he said.
"And the Beyond the Bell Great South Coast ReConnect Me at Warrnambool will provide local youth with the support they need to help keep them away from negative influences and anti-social behaviour.
"The Morrison Government is backing our community-led solutions to crime - to ensure all residents can go about their daily lives free from violence, harassment and anti-social behaviour."
Assistant Minister for Customs, Community Safety and Multicultural Affairs Jason Wood said the additional funding was in response to overwhelming demand from the community and will support organisations with demonstrated experience in helping marginalised youth, to build resilience, strengthen community connections and job readiness skills.
"These community organisations do vital work in helping get young people on the right track. We know that some young people engage in activities or have negative experiences that leave them at risk of joining gangs, committing serious crimes, and disengaging from the wider community," Assistant Minister Wood said.
"The challenges we've faced over the last two years as a result of the pandemic have only added to the sense of social isolation and disconnection that some young people feel."
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