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Council Focuses on Young People

11 April 2000

Young people are to become a higher priority for Auckland City following the adoption of an international initiative that protects children.

First Call for Children, which originated at the 1990 World Summit for Children, states that local government is responsible for ensuring children are accorded environmental protection, in particular by promoting safe communities and making sure the viewpoints of children and young people are heard.

“By adopting First Call for Children, Council has signalled its commitment to youth and children,” says Councillor Penny Sefuiva, chairperson of the Community Development committee.

“This commitment includes the development of a Youth Policy which focuses on issues concerning the city’s young people. To be effective it must be written for and by young people.”

The policy will be the result of a lengthy consultation process with people aged 12 to 25 from a wide variety of socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds.

In order to facilitate this a youth policy working team has been set up. Run by two project managers aged under 25, Katherine Huggard and Loana Tanielu, it involves officers from both the Community Planning and Recreation and Community Services groups of Council, councillors Richard Northey and Penny Sefuiva, and a reference group of nine young people representing a wide range of ethnic and special interest groups.

The policy working team has visited schools, held focus groups, conducted interviews with 44 service providers and conducted a youth forum to gain an understanding of the issues concerning young people.

Top of the list across all groups was safety, followed by transport, identity/culture, advocacy/being heard, and entertainment.

School-aged youngsters felt that peer pressure, smoking/alcohol/drug abuse, job and money concerns, safety, mental health and family issues were their major worries.

Government agencies and community groups working with young people share the same concerns.

“There is a general view that youth need to be better served across the region,” says Cr Sefuiva. “To that end, my committee has asked staff to investigate links with agencies, government departments and other cities to develop a regional plan for youth services and resources. Our top priority is safety issues, especially increasing street safety at night in downtown Auckland.”

Auckland City’s Strategic Plan contains a number of priorities of particular relevance to youth and which support the development of the Youth Policy. These include Auckland leadership, effective transport, celebrating and recognising diversity, and prosperous and strong communities.

The Youth Policy Working Team has begun work on drafting the youth policy and will be holding a series of workshops with key groups within Auckland City to fine tune it and to develop appropriate action plans.

The completed draft policy will then be sent back to all the groups and organisations initially consulted, with requests for feedback and suggestions.

ENDS

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