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YMCA – Get An Edge Launch - Anderton Speech

12 May 2001 Hon Jim Anderton Speech Notes

YMCA – Get An Edge Launch

YMCA National AGM
Garden City Café
Botanical Gardens
Christchurch
7.30 pm Saturday

I am honoured to be here today to launch a programme that will help young New Zealanders.

When I speak to groups I often say that we need to build on what we have to make this country the best it can be.

I can think of no better group to start work on building for the future, than our children.

They will inherit everything from us.

I have a daughter who is in Germany singing Opera under contract to a large state Opera Company in Hessen. I am hoping she does well. Very well. Because when I retire she will be able to support me!
The young people and children of today will be the best support system for all of us tomorrow.

This is one reason why I want to see more employment. There has been a lot of work by government's to ensure people can receive unemployment benefits if they can't find work. I support this.

But personally I'd rather we had real sustainable jobs for all New Zealanders.

We need to spend as much of our time and government effort to creating sustainable, satisfying jobs as we do to ensuring there is a social security safety net. That is what the Ministry of Economic Development and Industry New Zealand are doing.

For example in the weeks ahead using the Ministry of Economic Development I intend to promote ways of providing work rather than benefits for tertiary students during their summer breaks.

These job programmes are being developed against the background of increasing skill shortages. Quite simply New Zealand has work that needs doing.

Only this week unemployment statistic showed us that unemployment is still falling, now at a rate of 5.4 per cent.

The sort of country I want our kids to inherit is one where every New Zealander has the opportunity to develop their talents to the full. That was the type of New Zealand in which I grew up.

However there is more to making our society successful and satisfying.

We have to ensure our young people are equipped to meet a wide range of challenges.

It is appropriate that this launch of the YMCA Youth leadership programme is in Christchurch.

Christchurch City Council has worked hard to make this city user friendly for our young citizens.

It has appointed a Children's Advocate and a Youth Advocate to ensure Council policies and city amenities are child and youth friendly.

There is a programme of free family entertainment and festivals every year. One of the festivals, Kidsfest, has had a lot of support in years past complete with queues around the town hall when the ticket sales open.

There are skateboard parks and Christchurch City has around 700 neighbourhood parks.

I often hear of people returning to Christchurch to raise their children.

Of course I am biased, I live here, represent our city in parliament and my wife Carole is, as many of you may know, on the City Council.

Carole has told me that Christchurch City Council has been leading the way in working with at risk children and youth. It has been working with the YMCA and a range of church and community groups to make a difference with children.

These groups together with the Police fund youth workers who help at-risk kids and young adults and try and prevent them from becoming tomorrow's prison inmates. In many cases it is to late to prevent them starting as criminals but it is possible to help stop them continuing a life of crime.

This is an excellent initiative. It shows the commitment of people in this city to looking after our kids.

And despite the changing ways of viewing young people and the creation of ever younger consumers through advertising, the internet and television, it is still basically up to us all to look after our young people.

Today's world is increasingly complex.

The things our children need to understand today are more complex and technical than ever before. At the same time our social and family structures are altering and sometimes not as supportive as they once were..

A two parent family is no longer the only framework of support within which children grow up and develop.
For our children to succeed and have a sense of self worth and well being they need a lot of support.

We need to recognise the pressures they face and do what we can to help them face quite daunting challenges. We need to give them the skills to cope in the world we ourselves have helped to create.

We spend a lot of time in government discussing skills shortages, barriers to economic growth, e-government and other 'knowledge economy' issues.

What educationalists and experts tell us, though, is that young people and children need a loving and supportive environment in which to learn self respect.

Chances are that a young person who knows they are loved and has respect for themselves is going to be a good member of our community, have respect for others and bring up any children they have with the same values.

This is one reason why I am pleased to be here to launch the "Get an Edge" leadership programme.

It seems to me that 11 and 12 year olds and the teenagers taken through this programme with its core values of caring, respect, responsibility and honesty will be off to a good start on the road to good, positive and constructive citizenship.

I notice the Getting an Edge programme is based on research gathered from 500,000 teenagers.

The programme works to build assets such as a young person's skill and understanding of life. Assets are defined not in terms of dollar values but as the key elements that young people need to fully function with purpose in their lives.

I see there are 40 key assets that teenagers need, I have no idea how many assets I need and whether I have 40. I hope however, that I have an edge.

I do believe strongly that the very act of devoting the time and resources to these young people sends them a vital message.

The message is that they are important, both as individuals and as the foundation of the nation's future.

I do have one observation I want to share with you tonight and I hope that it is addressed by this programme.

I have made 34 regional visits around New Zealand since becoming the Minister for Economic, Industry and Regional Development.

I have talked to thousands of New Zealanders.

It is clear to me one of our biggest barriers to success is our reluctance to celebrate it!

If New Zealand is to do better both socially and economically we need to get more comfortable, and certainly a lot more enthusiastic about celebrating our successes rather than dwelling on our failures.

What has amazed me is reluctance of New Zealanders to talk about their amazing achievements. What they do and what they have done is often both remarkable and spectacularly brilliant. But we are reluctant to be seen to be promoting ourselves.

What continues to impress me is that New Zealanders know the answers and have the ideas to solve our own problems and take our country towards a better future.

We are known internationally for our innovation, our creativity and our ability to generate new ideas.

Sir Earnest Rutherford, William Davidson (inventor of refrigerated shipping), John Hamilton (Jet boat engine), Sir Angus Tait, John Britten, Bruce McLaren and so on were creative acheivers. More important to New Zealand than the Super 12 or even, dare I say it, the Crusaders, the Black Caps or the All Blacks.

What we need to be better known for is our self confidence and an ability to make things happen.

We need to encourage and make it possible for New Zealanders to be the best they can be, at whatever they have the ability to excel.

Starting here with our 11 and 12 year olds and teenagers I hope that we can have more young people confident and secure in who they are and what they can do.

Their future depends on it.

Our future depends on it.

I congratulate the YMCA for your work and your mission. I congratulate you for this new programme which we will launch later tonight.

Thank you for inviting me to be with you tonight.
ends

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