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Youth Access Initiative

Supports young people with care and/or youth justice experience, and young people residing in Education First Youth Foyers, by providing access to vocational education and training opportunities via tuition fee waiver.

Youth Access Initiative


What is the Youth Access Initiative?

Young people on child protection orders, youth justice orders and residents of Victorian Education First Youth Foyers represent some of the most marginalised young people in our community, often presenting with complex needs and multiple barriers to entering into education and training.

Central to breaking the link between disadvantage and poor educational/training outcomes is ensuring that learners at risk of poor learning outcomes are supported to stay in education/training and reach their potential for better life opportunities.

The Youth Access Initiative addresses the key aspects of improving awareness of, access to and engagement with vocational education and training opportunities for these young people.

The Youth Access Initiative is part of the Skills First Funding which includes supports for disadvantaged learners to engage with and succeed in their education and training. The Youth Access Initiative contributes to this priority by further reducing the costs of subsidised training by providing a waiver on student tuition fees for eligible young people.

How to apply

  1. Check your eligibility by referring to the 'Who is eligible' section below
  2. Make contact with one of the Skills First training providers able to offer the Youth Access Initiative student tuition fee waiver to discuss your interests and options
  3. Complete a Youth Access Initiative Referral Form.
Infographic showing how to complete the referral through Agency.
Infographic showing how to complete the Self-Referral.

If you’re experiencing issues, please contact

You can also check if you qualify for other types of financial help for your trainingExternal Link .

The Youth Access Initiative Referral Form can be found at the bottom of this page or at the link below.

Download the referral form


  • To be eligible for the Youth Access Initiative, you must be:

    • eligible for Skills First Government subsidised training which includes being an Australian citizen, an Australian permanent resident, or a New Zealand citizen. For more information, refer to Victorian Skills Gateway - how to check your eligibilityExternal Link
    • aged 24 years or under; and
    • have been or are currently on a Child Protection Order or a Youth Justice Order (but are not currently in custody); OR
    • are a resident of an Education First Youth Foyer (for a list of relevant orders and foyer information refer to guidelines).
  • Funded courses and skill sets can only be delivered by Skills First contracted training providers. Refer to the Funded Course List for courses; the document includes a filter for full qualifications and skill sets.

    The Funded Course List is regularly reviewed, and courses added as required by industry needs, to support jobs growth. This allows the training market to keep up with the changing needs of the economy.

    Please note Free TAFE is available with more than 70 courses to choose from and you can now do more than one Free TAFE course within the same occupational pathway. If your course is part of Free TAFE, you will NOT need to apply for a full tuition waiver via the Youth Access Initiative.

    For eligibility, TAFE providers and the available Free TAFE course list, visit Link .

  • Skills First training providers have been selected for their capacity to deliver quality government subsidised training.

    A list of Skills First training providers that are able to offer both subsidised training and the Skills First Youth Access Initiative student tuition fee waiver can be found at:

    Only those Skills First training providers on this list can offer the Youth Access Initiative student tuition fee waiver.

    Specific details of the range of subsidised training opportunities available at each of these training providers can be found at: Link

  • Reconnect Program

    The Reconnect program is intended to improve a person’s chance of breaking the cycle of disadvantage by creating equity, improving access and increasing choice in pathways through education, training and employment.

    The program provides supported pathways into vocational education and training and employment and is enabled via a case management approach, tailoring the supports and needs of the participants. Reconnect providers can offer a range of supports while you are a participant of the Youth Access Initiative. These may include:

    • Counselling and mentoring
    • Housing and accommodation services referral
    • Mental health support referral
    • Foundation skills
    • Employability skills
    • Careers information, planning and advice.

    Raising Expectations

    The aims of Raising Expectations are to raise awareness for on-campus wrap-around services for out-of-home care leavers, build capacity and confidence in care leavers, support VET and Higher Education workers to provide integrated support to care leavers, and strengthen care leavers’ transitions into post-secondary education.

    Under the Raising Expectations program, TAFEs and dual-sector university partners provide the following supports to care leavers and can be accessed while you are a participant of the Youth Access Initiative.

    • Bursary and scholarship applications.
    • Access to financial allowances and similar supports.
    • VET and HE course enrolments.
    • Referrals to personal and academic support; and
    • Peer support and mentoring.

    Connections to the Marrung Aboriginal Education Plan

    Currently, there is an over-representation of Koorie young people within the child protection and youth justice systems.

    The Youth Access Initiative is aligned with the Victorian Government’s commitment to creating a better future for Koorie people and is aligned with the Marrung: Aboriginal Education Plan 2016 - 2026. For more information, refer to Marrung.

  • Skills First exemptions

    If you don’t meet the Skills First eligibility requirements, you may be able to get an exemption. For more information, contact your preferred training provider before you apply.

    Other government assistance

    Find out about government assistance to help you studyExternal Link .

    Asylum seekers

    If you are an asylum seeker, you may be eligible for the Asylum Seeker VET programExternal Link .

    Overseas students

    If you are an overseas student, you are not eligible for Skills First funding, but you may be able to get other government assistance for study. Refer to the Australian Government Study Assist Non-Australian Citizens pageExternal Link for more information.

Reviewed 18 May 2023