Youth jobless rate worst in rural, regional areas

OUTBACK Queensland has been listed as the nation's biggest hotspot for youth unemployment, but it is closely followed by several other areas of the State.

The annual report on youth unemployment was released by the Brotherhood of St Laurence yesterday.

It included a list of the nation's 20 top hotspots for youth unemployment - all had jobless rates of 16% or more among those aged 15-24.

'Outback Queensland' included Mt Isa, Aurukun, Cape York and Longreach and the region had an average 28.4% youth jobless rate.

Other Sunshine State regions that made the top 20 included Wide Bay and Bundaberg (at 20.6%), Cairns (20.5%), Townsville at 17.6% and Mackay at 16%.

The list also included the New South Wales Richmond-Tweed region at 11th place, with an average 17.4% youth jobless rate across Tweed Heads, Byron Bay, Lismore and Mullumbimby.

Brotherhood executive Tony Nicholson said the data showed the picture was worse nationwide in rural and regional areas and outer suburbs of the major cities.

He said, "as a nation, we owe our young people a better deal" and the issue needed a sustained effort to improve schools, vocational training and universities as well as welfare assistance.