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Youth Councils want to further combat Synthetic Highs

Southern Youth Councils want Government to further combat Synthetic Highs

Local youth councils in South Auckland think the government needs to be more proactive in ensuring the recently banned synthetic highs under the Psychoactive Substances Act Amendment Bill do not return to the shelves in their communities.

"Over the past 3 years we have seen the devastating impact these synthetic highs have had on our people and our community. With this temporary ban we need to seriously consider if we will allow this damage to continue," says Sam Fuaivaa, Ōtara-Papatoetoe Youth Advisory Panel Chairperson.

The youth leaders from across South Auckland feel that the government has not listened to local communities, particularly the young people, and many underestimate the severity of the risks these products create.

"We don't know enough about these products and their impacts on people's health or their communities, but we have heard of countless cases of young people getting into serious health and financial problems because of these drugs," says Howick Youth Council Chairperson, Mackenzie Valgre.

"These products were supposed to be of low risk, yet they have caused huge problems for communities around New Zealand. How can we be sure the Ministry of Health regulations will prevent these problems from returning?" says Olivia Leckner, Franklin Youth Advisory Board Chairperson.

Auckland Council is currently developing a Local Approved Products Policy in anticipation of the approval of some products, however the youth councils believe there is no appropriate place for these shops in their community.

"It is not realistic to have these products sold in our communities and the policy makers in Central and Local Government need to create a policy which reflects this," says Matthew Ward, Manurewa Youth Council Chairperson. "Our local MPs need to listen to our communities and ensure their decisions reflect the value our communities place on young people's wellbeing."

The group hope that this statement will encourage other young people to speak out about the problems of synthetic highs in their communities.

"There are often negative stereotypes associated with South Auckland and young people in general, and we hope this statement shows that we don't want these products in our communities as they target young people," says Māngere-Ōtāhuhu Youth Advisory Panel Chairperson, Caroline Paepae.

"We know we aren't the only young people who feel like this and hope this encourages other youth groups around Auckland and the rest of New Zealand to engage in this issue," says Jason Mareroa, Papakura Youth Council Chairperson.


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