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Maori youth drugs and suicide a priority

Maori youth drugs and suicide a priority

A commitment to partnership with Maori communities to address drug abuse and prevent youth suicide was made today by Associate Health Minister Jim Anderton, who chairs the Government’s Ministerial Committee on Drug Policy and is responsible for the Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy.

At the sixth Annual New Zealand Australia Conference on Addictive Diseases in Wellington today, Jim Anderton committed to address Maori Youth health issues.

“I have seen, at first hand, the detrimental effect of marijuana and other drugs on individuals, families and communities. Budget 2003 commits $2.55 million to run 15 community projects which address alcohol and drug initiatives. These have been successfully piloted in Kaitaia (run by the Runanga), Hokianga, Whangaruru, West Auckland, Opotiki and Nelson,” said Jim Anderton.

Budget 2003 contains $2.6 million over four years for programmes to support the families and whanau affected by a suicide or an attempted suicide, as in both situations family members are at risk themselves and under great stress.

“While all groups in our community face these issues Maori have been particularly badly hit. I am prepared to meet with Maori communities and help them in their efforts to look after their young people in the face of drug abuse and youth suicide.

“Male Maori youth suicide rates are higher than for other New Zealanders and are very high by international standards. Suicide takes around 100 young New Zealanders lives each year and far too many Maori young people are dying.

“Budget 2003 contains $75,000 to review the Youth Suicide Prevention strategy and I have stressed that a priority must be to ensure that we work in partnership with Maori to prevent suicide among young Maori.

“The growing methamphetamine problem has had a particularly devastating effect on some Maori communities and needs to addressed head on. Anecdotally I have heard there is talk by some Maori elders of putting a ‘rahui’ or ban on P because of the damage it is doing to Maori, and I would applaud this move.

“Government cannot act alone and we need to work with communities to address these serious issues. We need Maori to succeed for the economic development of New Zealand and drugs and suicide issues must be addressed.

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