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Young people have their say in Parliament

Young people have their say in Parliament

Activate, the Ministry of Youth Development's (MYD) youth advisory group are determined that young people's voices are heard by decision makers. Members of Activate have addressed two parliamentary select committees in consecutive weeks.

"No one has the right to be dismissed without reason or warning," said 17 year-old Jessy Edwards' in her presentation at Parliament Buildings on Thursday 7 September.

She admits that being faced with a table of serious-looking politicians and a room full of adults was "pretty daunting" but not enough to stop her getting her points across.

Activate collected young New Zealanders views on the Employment Relations (Probationary Employment) Amendment Bill and the Crimes (Abolition of Force as a Justification for Child Discipline) Amendment Bill. They then took these views and made formal submissions to parliament.

Jessy, along with 16 year-old fellow Activate member, Oliver Butt, told the select committee that they do not support the bill which proposes to introduce a 90-day probationary period for all new employees, because they say it will further disadvantage young workers, who are already among the most vulnerable in society.

"If this bill is approved, young people will become vulnerable to mistreatment by employers because they will be unable to make a personal grievance," says Jessy.

Seventeen year-old Nicol Bryant of Wellington is passionate about eliminating force as a justification for child discipline. She presented alongside 18 year-old Ummy Amin on the Crimes Amendment Bill at the select committee (on 31 August). Activate does not support the physical punishment of children or young people.

"Smacking creates negative emotions for many young people – it is important that the select committee know this.

"I really felt that they listened, I spoke from the heart and I am confident our views will be considered. It wasn't even that scary," said Nicol.

The Activate group was established through the Ministry of Youth Development (MYD) to advise the government on issues of interest and concern to young people, and is made up of representatives aged 15-21 from the Wellington region. The group's views are independent of the government.

They used online surveys and a quick poll to capture young people's views on the two bills, which they say gave them a national perspective from young people.


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