Labour's Youth Affairs Policy
Labour On Youth Affairs
Investment, Identity, and Independence were the touchstones of Labour’s 1999 policy on youth affairs. The Labour led government has kept its word and delivered on its commitment to young people.
Over the past two years, the Youth Development Strategy Aotearoa has been developed following wide consultation with young people and the agencies dealing with them.
Strategies for children and for youth health, combine with the Youth Development Strategy Aotearoa to provide the best policy foundation for young people New Zealand has ever seen.
The task for the next three years is implementation. “Building the Future” sums up Labour’s approach. Our commitment to young New Zealanders will be delivered, and it is unmatched by any other party as can be seen from the achievements of the Labour led government and Labour’s commitments for the next three years.
The Labour led government has: • Launched the Youth Development Strategy Aotearoa that requires a whole-ofgovernment approach to improving policy responsiveness to the needs of young people.
• Increased the youth minimum wage from $4.20 to $6.40 (i.e. increased it from 60 percent to 80 percent of the adult minimum wage) and extended the adult rate to include 18 and 19 year olds.
• Introduced the SNAP programme aimed at matching up to 1000 students with shortterm job shortages, with an allocation of $484,000 for the 2002/2003 summer in Budget 2002.
• Provided a $1.673 million boost for Youth Suicide Prevention programmes.
• Made the Student Loan Scheme fairer by removing interest on student loans for fulltime and other low-income students while they are studying and other modifications which have contributed to a fall in the average amount of student loan debt for the first time since the Loan Scheme began.
• Improved support to Mäori and Pacific tertiary students.
• Introduced and expanded the highly successful Modern Apprenticeships Scheme which has created work-based learning opportunities for over 3000 young people (increasing to 6000 by the end of 2003). LABOUR: WORKING FOR TOMORROW, TODAY 1 YOUTH AFFAIRS • Introduced the Gateway programme, designed to build pathways for senior secondary school students into work-based learning, and to encourage better partnerships between schools and local businesses.
BUILDING THE FUTURE
Key themes in Labour’s policy for young people into the future are voice, purpose and protection. Ensuring young people are heard in public life is a vital part of building a better future for New Zealand. Making sure every young person has the chance to develop their talents and build creative, satisfying lives is vital to New Zealand’s economic and social development. Protecting the rights of young people, who are often among the most vulnerable people in society, is important too. These three ideas provide the context for Labour’s approach to youth policy.
Youth Development Strategy Aotearoa
For the first time, New Zealand has a plan of action around youth policy. The full implementation and monitoring of the Strategy will form the core of our commitment to young New Zealanders.
• Commit to the implementation of the Youth Development Strategy Aotearoa, and monitor progress towards achieving its goals.
• Retain a separate Minister of Youth Affairs responsible for the implementation of the Strategy.
• Investigate whether the Strategy can be more effectively monitored within a separate Ministry, or whether Youth Affairs should become a semi-autonomous division of the Ministry of Social Development reporting directly to the Minister of Youth Affairs.
• Ensure that the Strategy remains a live document, by engaging in active consultation and dialogue with young people around the country as part of the implementation and monitoring process.
• Ensure that the Strategy guides policy for young people across the whole of government.
Education and training
Education and training are key to well-being. Labour will continue to build on its track record of improvements in access to education and training.
• Undertake a Review of Student Support and move to widen eligibility for single fulltime students aged 18-24, beginning by progressively raising the parental income thresholds.
• Widen eligibility for the Unemployment Benefit Student Hardship in step with this.
LABOUR: WORKING FOR TOMORROW, TODAY 2 YOUTH AFFAIRS
• Extend student allowances, on the basis of parental income, to those tertiary students aged 16 and 17 who have finished year 13 at school (parents would not be eligible for family assistance for children in receipt of an allowance).
• Design, as part of the development of an Education and Training Leaving Age strategy, living support arrangements for 16 and 17 year olds who choose to undertake tertiary study rather than continue at school, without advantaging these students over those at school.
• Double the number participating in Modern Apprenticeships to 6000 by the end of December 2003.
Growing a voice
Labour believes that having a voice is important for young people. This is a key theme underlying the Youth Development Strategy Aotearoa.
• Encourage territorial local authorities to develop forums such as Youth Councils that provide young people with an opportunity to have a voice in decision-making at that level of government.
• Encourage and extend initiatives in civics education within the school curriculum.
• Investigate developing and funding a national-level representative body for youth, in line with other population groups.
• Support the growth of community generated youth focused radio services that involve young people at all levels of their operation. • Monitor, in close consultation with young people, the provision of radio services for young people, including for children to ensure that young New Zealanders in all regions are able to hear programmes designed for them.
• Develop a Youth Appointments Register to ensure that talented young people are identified as suitable for appointment to statutory boards and other public bodies.
• Investigate ways of enhancing the Youth Parliament.
• Promote the use of the Internet by public agencies, recognising that this is a medium many young people prefer to use when interacting with government.
• Encourage the Ministry of Youth Affairs to make better use of online consultation methods, to keep in touch with young people who have Internet access (e.g. a Youthspeak website).
Achieving potential and developing talent Labour is committed to ensuring that young people have opportunities and resources to achieve their potential and develop their talent, whether it is in sporting activity, involvement in community organisations, academic success or cultural pursuits.
• Commit to the goal of ensuring that by 2007 all 15 to 19 year olds will be engaged in appropriate education, training, work, or other options which will lead to long-term economic independence and well-being.
LABOUR: WORKING FOR TOMORROW, TODAY 3 YOUTH AFFAIRS
• Continue to develop employment programmes that address the particular needs of young people.
• Establish a database of scholarships and grants available to both individuals and groups, for education, training, or community activities focused on young people. This will be published in an easily accessible and searchable form.
• Promote youth volunteering and institute a Citizens’ Service pilot programme in the Ministry of Social Development to enable young people to participate in communityfocused projects and be recognised and rewarded for their contribution.
Protection and promotion of well-being of young people
With vulnerable groups in the population it is particularly important to ensure that their rights are respected and where necessary enforced, along with the development of policies that promote well-being. Labour believes that young people should have access to services, including opportunities for social and cultural development, no matter what their background or resource base. Labour will support a range of initiatives to enhance the well-being of young people:
• Commit to the implementation of the Youth Health Strategy, and the Agenda for Children with appropriate monitoring and evaluation.
• Implement the Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy ensuring it takes note of the importance of sexuality and gender identity issues in this area.
• Promote enhanced availability of legal services for young people in trouble.
• Support development of youth music and arts, largely through current policy settings.
• Retain the youth minimum wage, with reviews to ensure it maintains its value relative to the adult minimum wage.
• Encourage work by Housing New Zealand to improve the range and quality of housing options available to young people who are not living at home.