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Community Drive For Realising Youth Potential

Date October 12, 2009

Council Leads Community Drive For Realising Youth Potential

Hastings District Council is bringing together groups with an interest the district’s young people to discuss ways to unlock their potential and address anti-social behavior of at-risk youth.

Around two years ago, Council established the Hastings District Crime Prevention Governance Group, which included representatives from police, the Ministry of Justice, Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga, the Ministry of Social Development, the Ministry of Education, the Department of Internal Affairs, Hawke’s Bay District Health Board, Child Youth and Family and Housing New Zealand.

Events leading up to the Enough is Enough hikoi focused the groups energies on addressing the wider social issues which lead to anti-social behavior and violence among a small group of the district’s young people. The group asked for research to be done that confirmed the anecdotal evidence on at-risk and youth gangs.

HDC has just concluded an initial series of workshops which gathered representatives from schools, police, Ngati Kahunungu iwi Inc., Youth Workers Collective, Te Puni Kokiri, Safe Hastings Advisory Committee, Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga, Maori Wardens and Mongrel Mob.

The workshops discussed recent EIT research commissioned by HDC, funded by Ministry of Justice, which provided guidance on how to address these issues faced by Hastings youth.

Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule says the governance group agrees it’s the behavior exhibited by youth
gangs that is the problem.

“We need to celebrate the success of our young people. The vast majority of young people are not
causing trouble or committing crimes, and while we need a zero tolerance approach to crime and anti-social behaviour, we need to actively support those young people who are struggling to reach their potential.

“Parents and communities need to be supported with programmes and services that help them deal with the challenging behavior of their young people.

Hastings District Commander of Police, Inspector Dean Clifford says these agencies coming together is a positive step forwards for the community as a whole.

“This research gathers some concrete evidence from agencies working with youth gangs and now we need to work with the community to find some solutions. This is a problem for the whole district to address and for it to work we need to address the issues as a community,” Inspector Dean Clifford says.

The research confirms some of the issues leading to gang-based offending, including economic deprivation, family conditions and isolation from school and social services.

Some solutions to those social issues recommended by the research and discussed at the workshops include;

• Support for clusters of schools, community groups and families working with youth;
• Linking key leaders from the community with youth;
• Asking youth what issues effect them and making them part of the solution;
• Providing particular support for youth moving from primary to intermediate, then on to high school.
• Early intervention and education for youth at risk of joining gangs;
• Helping communities take positive ownership of their neighbourhood.

Council does not want to duplicate what is already being done in the community but to build on those strengths and identify gaps in services and programmes.

“Money is not necessarily the solution to these issues, it is coordinating the resources we already have in the most efficient way possible for the good of our young people. That’s what they deserve,” says Mayor Yule.

EIT chief executive Chris Collins says being involved in these types of projects is an important opportunity for EIT.

“It’s great to be involved in research with a practical focus aimed at improving the behavior and support for the youth in our community,” Mr Collins says.
The next step is developing an action plan.

“Council wants to talk to our young people and those groups working alongside them. We will develop the recommendations of the research into some firm solutions and then we will consult more with the community on how we can achieve the best results,” Mayor Yule says.

“We encourage anyone with an interest in youth to give use feed back and tell us how they can be part of the solution.

The outcomes of this process will add to the projects, listed below, that Council is already leading.

• The establishment of a community worker in Flaxmere.
• On-going support for Community Plans for Flaxmere, Whakatu, Camberley and Clive.
• Graffiti vandalism reduction programmes.
• After school and early childhood education programmes through the Sports Centre.
• On-going support for Atomic Events Centre.
• Support for the U-Turn Trust.
• On-going support for local marae.
• Development of the Extreme Park and Premiere Playground.

ENDS

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