DISAFFECTED south-west youth are a ticking social timebomb not dissimilar to rioting British counterparts, former Labor candidate Judith McNamara has claimed.
Low levels of university education attainment and a devaluing of vocational training by governments have caused many south-west teenagers to feel directionless, the veteran teacher and social worker said.
Her comments come after the fourth night of violence and looting in the UK precipitated from the police shooting of an alleged drug dealer in London’s eastern suburbs last week.
Ms McNamara said the federal and state governments needed to invest more money into regional universities and TAFEs to ensure south-west teenagers were able to access tertiary education.
She said lower-than-average educational attainment by south-west students would fuel social and economic alienation.
“I don’t think this country is immune in any way to what we have seen over in London and other British cities,” Ms McNamara said.
“(Premier) Ted Baillieu was on radio saying that (the British riots) were the result of a couple of thousand unruly teenagers getting out of hand and that this sort of thing wouldn’t happen here.
"I think he and others like him are just turning a blind eye.
“I’m not saying that there’s not an element of thuggery and recklessness going on over in the UK, but it is directly related to many underlying social and economic issues — the same issues we have here.”
Ms McNamara said the levels of illiteracy, numeracy and high school non-completion were “very high and should be a cause for concern”.
“I’m a member of the Warrnambool City Council’s health and wellbeing subcommittee and the statistics around illiteracy and innumeracy in this region are quite bad,” she said.
“We need to look at the underlying causes and find solutions through government at all levels.”
Ms McNamara stood unsuccessfully as the ALP’s Wannon candidate at the 2010 federal election.
Liberal candidate Dan Tehan won the seat.
Ms McNamara yesterday said she was considering another run for Wannon but she “wasn’t ruling anything in or out” at this stage.