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Strength to care about our young people

Hon Jim Anderton

Minister of Agriculture, Minister for Biosecurity
Minister of Fisheries, Minister of Forestry
Associate Minister of Health
Associate Minister for Tertiary Education

Progressive Leader

29 February 2008 Media Statement

Strength to care about our young people

The opening of a new youth residential facility run by Odyssey House was a
statement that Christchurch cares enough to give our young people a chance, Associate Health Minister Jim Anderton said today.

He said that, as Progressive Party leader and with the ability to make budget bids for a few select projects, a South Island alcohol and drug treatment service targeted at young people was one of the projects he had pushed for.

“I put the initiative in with a basket of new policies, like those targeting suicide and depression and other drug treatment measures. And there were people who thought it was a mad idea, because - they said - you only get so many chances at bidding for money for your party. My party is small, so we don’t get to ask for very much. We have to be very strategic when we go and see our coalition partners and say we want certain things paid for out of the government’s budget.

“So people said, why would you use your limited capital to ask for this, Jim?

“It’s not a Kiwibank that is going to be opening branches in every town and attracting six hundred thousand new customers. It’s not a new government department dedicated to getting our unemployment rate permanently down and rejuvenating the regions of New Zealand.”

But, he said, it was thinking like that, that left Christchurch without any residential centre.

“And without a residential youth facility, we had a problem for the Youth Drug Court. Four out of five youth offenders have a drug or alcohol problem. Police and other agencies have identified residential facilities as vital in the battle to keep individuals and the community safe and to discourage re-offending.

“I said we have to be strong enough to care about these issues - we have to be strong enough to care about young people.

“And if we want to our young people to make the most of their talents and opportunities, we need to do something about drug treatment for young people.

“So I went along and made a budget request for $550,000 in annual operating funding and a $250,000 one-off capital expenditure payment.

“My Labour coalition partners agreed and the Canterbury District Health Board selected Odyssey House as the provider for the South Island's new Alcohol & Other Drug Treatment Service for young people.

“That’s how we come to be here today.”

He said the opening of the new facility was a tribute to the Board of Odyssey House, representatives from other agencies and to the family, friends, supporters and patients treated here.

“It’s not easy to commit to a project and see it through. It takes vision, trust in others and in your vision and it takes strength.

“That we have arrived here is a statement about our strength as a community - a statement that we are strong enough to care.

“It’s a statement that we care enough to give our young people a chance.”

Jim Anderton also congratulated those who have given rehabilitation a try.

“There are times of relapse for many, and you find out you have to try and try again. It takes tenacity and strength to come through. It took tenacity and strength by a caring community to open this facility and I am proud to be here for this day.”


ends

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