Lies, damn lies and then there’s statistics – that’s the old saying and it’s especially true in Gippsland, Victoria, where the recent spin is that there’s a revival in employment hope. Source: Timberbiz Recent Small Area Labour Market figures produced by the Federal Government showed a drop in Latrobe City’s unemployment rate since Hazelwood closed. That’s a bit like saying it’s great that the shark only bit off the leg below your knee. Because the town-by-town breakdown of unemployment in the region reveals that Morwell continues to have the highest unemployment rate in Latrobe City at 15.6% – it has dropped but that’s a whopping great number of unemployed people. Some towns fare better but what doesn’t show any promise is youth unemployment which remains at around 19% for 15-19 year olds an increase over 2017 which was 14.5%. The council expects this to climb even higher to around 21% this year. That’s a lot of young, high spirited bored teenagers. It doesn’t take a maths genius to work out what that means for the area but maybe it will take a maths teacher to make it better. Melina Bath, National Party Member for the Eastern Region, is just that, an ex-mathematics coordinator from Mirboo North Secondary College who is now based in Traralgon. She is a born and bred Gippslander which means she has lived in the area all her life and understands the culture, the industry and the soul of Gippsland. As a teacher, she also understands the need to strike hard at youth unemployment and sees forestry as a long term sustainable industry that is perfect for her region. Melina’s views make for compelling reading, so, make sure you get a copy of the May edition of Australian Forests & Timber News …. out soon.