A national inquiry into youth employment is finding housing, racial discrimination and safety are significant barriers for young people entering and staying in the workforce in Katherine.
Across Australia, nearly 30 per cent of young people are either unemployed or underemployed.
But for youth living in Katherine, a town where even completing high school is a feat, gaining employment is a challenge.
"A big part of the conversation is what is going on early in people's lives that is blocking access to future employment," commissioner for the National Youth Commission Dr May Lam said.
Youth commissioner Finbar Piper, professor David Mackenzie and Dr May Lam are in Katherine today gathering evidence on the key challenges and solutions to the future of youth employment as part of a national Inquiry into Youth Employment and Transitions.
Travelling around Australia they are hearing from organisations and experts at the coalface to understand the unique contexts shaping employment outcomes for young people.
"We have heard today that while there are jobs in Katherine and maybe more jobs than the labour market in Darwin, the ability to fill those jobs relies on having appropriate housing and living conditions to get to work," Dr Lam said.
"There are undertones of racial discrimination due to employer's past experience and getting all the support lined up so employment can be sustained is tricky."
Twenty-five-year-old youth commissioner for the NYC Finbar Piper said it is crucial to address Katherine's social inequalities before moving into discussions on youth unemployment.
"We have heard today that safe and secure housing and safe communities are important in helping students engage with school and employment.
"There is a high suspension rate in Katherine, which can lead to disengagement in schools and that is a very obvious link to unemployment."
He said it is more critical than ever to engage with local communities and involve youth in the discussion.
"The answers to youth unemployment and underemployment are not going to be the same across Australia. We have to ensure that we go to every region and listen intently to the local challenges so that our solutions and proposed reforms are actually effective.
"This commission is about listening. It is about providing a platform for all people who are affected by these issues because they are in the best position to help design solutions."
As part of the inquiry, a commissioner is also engaging Katherine's youth.
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