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Youth demand greater involvement in decision-making

Media release – The Youth Declaration 2019

Youth demand greater involvement in decision-making

Young New Zealanders are demanding to be more involved in decision-making processes.

The Youth Declaration document from UN Youth New Zealand, created by 250 rangatahi at the Aotearoa Youth Declaration conference outlines the biggest challenges young people see in our society and the solutions they propose to tackle them.

The Declaration identifies mental health, climate change, and an inequitable education system as some of the core concerns for young New Zealanders. Significantly, young people expressed frustration at the lack of inclusion of their voices in decision-making.

Rangatahi discussed feelings of isolation, active marginalisation, and tokenism when talking about their contributions to decision-making. Young people want to be meaningfully involved in decision-making processes, for they can’t vote or have a significant impact on the decisions that impact their lives.

The Youth Declaration document includes over 66 statements created by the 250 participants, ranging from biodiversity to abortion reform, to the decolonisation of our education system. Coming from Kaitaia and Invercargill and everywhere in between, the 250 participants aged between 12 and 18 were a diverse representation of young people in New Zealand.

In the Youth Declaration, young people propose lowering the voting age to 16, allowing prisoner voting rights, and a comprehensive civics education that includes Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

Rangatahi feel as though there are significant aspects missing from their education. They call for a holistic sex education curriculum that teaches consent, healthy relationships, body positivity, gender, and sexual minorities. These youth want to see te reo Māori taught in primary and intermediate schools, the decolonisation of our education system, and a comprehensive history of New Zealand that centres Te Ao Māori and matuaranga Māori.

The Youth Declaration offers ideas tackling everything from bias in social media, to elderly care, to sustainable infrastructure. You can read it here.

Event coordinator Victoria Rhodes-Carlin says “young people are not disengaged, apathetic or lazy. They are passionate, informed and driven to make a difference for the future of our country. However, these young people are not adequately engaged in decision-making processes in Aotearoa. We ran the Aotearoa Youth Declaration to equip students with tools to make themselves heard.”

Aotearoa Youth Declaration is a UN Youth organised event, held at the University of Auckland every year. The 2019 conference was the biggest and most representative yet, with nearly 350 rangatahi in total. Participants use the Youth Declaration to work with their local MPs and Councillors to advocate for greater youth involvement in decision-making and particular issues they care about.


Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/YouthDecNZ/?eid=ARBjT3495skQ3raMHgNv-EwGRTj9hj0i3r2HhZ8atVPczmAdS4dEI6WI2FuviSTSjVFFIKDe_kNtZT34

2019 Video: https://www.facebook.com/YouthDecNZ/videos/2430781460274860/?eid=ARBjT3495skQ3raMHgNv-EwGRTj9hj0i3r2HhZ8atVPczmAdS4dEI6WI2FuviSTSjVFFIKDe_kNtZT34

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