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John Tamihere Speech: National Associate of CAB

John Tamihere Speech: National Associate of Citizens Advice Bureaux Awareness Week: Youth and Young People


I thought I would begin this speech by making a number of observations that I have drawn from my first eight months as Minister of Youth Affairs.

The first observation is that adults often suffer from selective amnesia when they look at the youth sector. What I mean by this is that we tend to cleanse our memory banks of what we used to get up to when we were youths and then apply another set of standards in assessing what's acceptable in today's youth.

The second point I would make is that the youth sector is huge, dynamic and is defined as being people aged from 12 to 25 years old.

Young people are responsible for changing behaviours of society as a whole. For example: the English language will be revolutionised by text messaging coming from the youth sector. Fashions, music and as a consequence the way in which standards generally apply, are shifted in large part from the youth sector.

As society ages, the youth sector will play a significant role in producing positive, progressive, productive young adults who will be the new leaders of our new communities.

The following points are basically factual and outline the key features and dynamics of youth sector. I ask you to consider them carefully and clearly as consider how you engage with groups in the youth sector.


· Generally, young people today are better educated. They are reasonably healthy although statistics show that taiohi Mäori have more health issues than their non-Mäori peers

· Changes in the economy and labour market will require young people to increase their skills and education levels. The pressure to ensure they are well qualified will also mean young people are more likely to spend longer in education and be financially dependent on their families for longer

· Characteristics that influence the choices that young people make and the opportunities that are open to them include: Ø where they live (urban, rural, provincial) Ø how they live (family and living arrangements) Ø ethnic background including how well connected they are to their ethnic backgrounds (eg: ability to speak their native language) Ø level of educational achievement Ø socio-economic background Ø involvement in paid and unpaid work.

How many young people do we have?

· The youth population in New Zealand is ethnically diverse and changing. New immigrants from Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe, together with increasing numbers of taiohi Mäori and Pacific people, contribute to the increasing diversity

· Young people (12 to 24 years inclusive) make up 18% (675,087) of the total population (3,727,280): Ø 16% are of New Zealand European descent Ø 24% are of Mäori descent Ø 24% are of Pacific descent Ø 26% are of Asian descent.

Family/whänau and living arrangements

· Family/whänau are usually the most important people in a young person's life. The quality of family relationships is more important than structure to young people.

· At the 2001 census: Ø 65% of young people lived with their own parents or people in a parent role Ø 83% of young people aged 12-19 years lived with their family/whänau Ø 32% of young people aged 20-24 years lived with their family/whänau Ø 63% of taiohi Mäori lived with their whänau compared with 69 % of Pacific young people, 67 % European and 60 % Asian Ø 35% of families (with dependent children) received welfare support.

How healthy are our young people?

· Young New Zealanders are very healthy compared with the rest of the population, but they do poorly in some areas - most notably suicide rates. Other areas of concern include car accidents, alcohol and drug issues and poor sexual and reproductive health.

· Differences in health status also vary according to ethnicity, gender and where young people live.

· Specific health risks for young people include:

Alcohol & Drugs · approximately 79% of 14-17 year olds drink alcohol · young men aged 18-24 years are disproportionately heavy drinkers, and are most likely to consume six or more drinks in a single session · the volume of drinking by young women of all age groups increased between 1995 and 2000 · around 23% of deaths in the 15-24 year age group were attributable to alcohol · around 10% of young people are estimated to be dependent on cannabis by the age of 21.

Tobacco · while a new survey shows the rate of smoking among fourth formers (year 10) is the lowest since 1992, smoking rates among young people are still high · females are more likely to smoke than males · young Mäori women are the most likely to smoke with nearly half of those surveyed smoking daily, weekly or monthly.

Sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies · the number of cases of chlamydia and gonorrhoea among young people 15-24 years has increased since 1996 · 6/10 pregnancies among women under 25 years are reportedly 'unwanted' · between 1988 and 2000, the abortion rate increased by 62% among females aged 15-19 years and by 66% among those aged 20-24 years.

Injury · males have higher rates of death caused by injury than females · Mäori have higher rates of death from injury than non-Mäori.

Young people and education

· Outside the family, young people spend most of their time in school or undertaking further education, training or work

· The proportion of students staying at secondary school beyond the compulsory age (16 years) has gradually decreased over the past few years

· Females are outperforming males in the school sector. In 200, 41% of female school leavers gained a year 13 (7th form) qualification compared with 34% of males

· Many young people are combing work with study. The proportion of young people in full-time employment has dropped and the proportion participating in education and part-time employment has increased. This has coincided with rising study fees and suggests many students are working (at least part-time) to fund their study

· Young people are now more dependent on their families and take longer to become financially independent than earlier generations. Many have student debts before entering full-time employment.

Young people and employment

· Employment is a key determinant of income, health, housing, social wellbeing, family life and leisure. Work is also linked to reduced criminal activity by young people

· Working part-time may lead to more permanent employment opportunities in the future. At the 2001 Census 20% of young people aged 15-24 years had a part-time job

· Young people have higher rates of unemployment than other groups. This reflects lower levels of education, training and work experience and therefore employability, particularly among those at the younger age of the youth spectrum

· Young people have also been disproportionately affected by unemployment in times of economic recession. At the 2001 Census, 40.3% of the total unemployed in New Zealand were aged 15-24 years

· The unemployment rate for 15-19 year olds stood at 22 percent, almost three times that of the total population (7.5%)

· 28% of taiohi Mäori and 27% of young Pacific people were unemployed compared with 12% of New Zealand European and 23% of Asian.

Young people and youth justice

· There is a lack of robust information about the true extent of offending by children and young people in New Zealand. Increases in statistics may reflect increased levels of offending, but may also reflect increased reporting, demographic changes, legislative changes and/or changes in police policy or practice

· There are features of offending by children and young people that may result in their over-representation in offending statistics: Ø they are generally less experienced at offending and are therefore more likely to be caught than adults Ø they also tend to offend in groups Ø their offending is often unplanned, opportunistic and related to the use of public space, where it is more visible and easily detected.

· Police apprehensions of under 17 year olds as a proportion of all offender apprehensions have remained relatively stable since 1991 (at between 21 & 23%). The number and rate of apprehensions of under 17 year olds has increased since 1991, as have the number and rate of apprehensions of those over 17 years

· Dishonesty offences (burglar, theft and motor vehicle apprehensions) are by far the most common offence for which children and young people are apprehended. Young people are most commonly prosecuted for property or violent offending

· Mäori youth are significantly over-represented in youth offending statistics, comprising around half of youth in the youth justice system. Pacific youth are not over-represented in youth offending statistics except for violent offences.


· Government has introduced a number of key strategies for supporting and ensuring the positive wellbeing of young people in New Zealand. These include the Youth Development Strategy Aotearoa, Youth Offending Strategy and Youth Health: A Guide To Action.

· All of these strategiespropose shifts in the way government and their respective sectors have traditionally seen young people: from being "at-risk" and as "a problem to be solved", to being valued participants in the community's efforts to create healthier environments and improve the wellbeing of young people.

· All of these strategies, but especially the Youth Development Strategy Aotearoa and Youth Health: A Guide To Action recognises that the wellbeing of young people is dependent on healthy connections with whanau, schools, peers, and work and training.

· The government is funding a wide range of initiatives that contribute to the positive development and wellbeing of children, young people and their families. These initiatives are funded across different portfolios, sectors and government agencies.

· These programmes can be grouped according to health and educational programmes, but also include youth development programmes and services, sports programmes, community-based programmes and vocational training.

Specific initiatives as identified in the Youth Offending Strategy

· Examples of school-based and educational programmes and services targeting families, children and young people at risk include: Ø Community-based family support programmes - Vote CYF: $79.9 (includes education and advice, special purpose housing, family wellbeing, counselling/rehabilitation) Ø Stronger Communities Action Funds - Vote CYF: $1.6m (3 year pilot for 7 communities to develop local solutions to locally-prioritised issues Ø Teen Parent Education Projects - Vote Education (assistance for support groups, including help accessing welfare entitlements, staying involved with education and obtaining access to childcare) Ø Study Support Centres (Homework Centres) - Vote Education (encourages primary-aged students in decile 1, 2 and 3 schools who are at risk of underachievement to develop good study habits

· Examples of vocational training programmes and services for families, children and young people at risk include: Ø Gateway - Vote Skills NZ (programme being piloted in 21 decile 1-5 high schools around New Zealand that allows secondary school students to participate in work-based learning as a part of their educational programme) Ø Youth Training - Vote Skills NZ: $67m (alternative stream of education and training experiences for young people who have left school with no or very low qualifications, to assist them to move into further education and training or employment)

· Examples of health programmes and services for families, children and young people at risk include: Ø Youth One Stop Shops - Vote Health (provide a range of clinical and non-clinical/peer support type services to young people with the majority of their work focused on sexual and reproductive health) Ø Kia Piki te Ora o te Taitamariki - Vote Health (community development projects focusing on improving health and social outcomes for taiohi Mäori) Ø Range of drug and alcohol services funded through Vote Health, CYF and Justice.

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