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Victoria students lead youth engagement publication

Victoria students lead youth engagement publication

A group of Victoria University students are trying to reverse the trend of political disengagement by giving young people a voice.

Ours, the brainchild of law and arts students Ollie Neas and Asher Emanuel, showcases the voices and views of young people online daily, and in print each week in the New Zealand Herald, in the lead up to the 2014 general election.

Ollie says Ours began after seeing how young people were unengaged with politics.

“We believed that this is more a consequence of the way politics is done, rather than the result of some deep-seated apathy in young people. We wanted to find a way to get young people from across New Zealand speaking to other young people.”

With youth voter turnout at the last general election the lowest ever, Ours provides a platform for young people to start conversations about what matters to them. Instead of promoting a political agenda, the aim is to give a voice to people who might not ordinarily have their views heard in the political process.

Over the next three weeks, Ours will cover a new theme: identity and opportunity are already available online and in print, while this Wednesday’s issue covers the topic of community. Later issues will look at the election, and New Zealand’s place in the world.

Ours is about making the voices of young people a part of the conversation,” says Asher.

As the project developed, a team of former Salient magazine editors and staff became involved as volunteers. Most are current students, including data editors Chris McIntyre and Stella Blake-Kelly who are both completing a Bachelor of Science, law and arts student Molly McCarthy who manages social media.

Former Salient designer Rachael Reeves is responsible for the creative direction of the publication, and a number of other volunteers from Victoria, Otago and Auckland universities help with writing, interviewing, photography, and research.

“A project of this size wouldn’t be possible without everyone’s willingness to volunteer. It’s really heartening so many people have donated time and skills to help young people engage with such an important process,” says Chris.

The team is also releasing new content most days, ranging from interviews with young New Zealanders, to infographics and videos featuring issues that are important to young people.

One section allows readers to submit viewpoints on what they would change about New Zealand, with a selection of the best being published in the New Zealand Herald.

Ours has also collated summaries of political party policy documents and interviews with party leaders to help young people make up their minds on what will be, for many, their first time voting.

Ours can be found online at ours.co.nz, and every Wednesday in the New Zealand Herald. Ours is also on Facebook at facebook.com/OursNZ and Twitter at @OursNZ.


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