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Pou Tautoko Rangatahi – ProCare’s First Youth Health Forum A Success

Youth voices were heard loud and clear at Pou Tautoko Rangatahi – ProCare’s first ever youth health forum. Held on 25 March, rangatahi from across Auckland gathered at the University of Auckland to spend a day interacting with industry experts in youth mental health, alcohol, vaping and other drugs, and share their thoughts on how healthcare can better tackle these issues.

Some of the guest speakers included Chlöe Swarbrick, MP for Auckland Central and Green spokesperson on drug reform and mental health; Hon. Willow-Jean Prime, Minister for Youth and Associate Minister for Health; Shaqaila Uelese, Co-director/Founder of mental health organisation Nevertheless; Professor Dr Kerry Gibson, a clinical psychologist in the School of Psychology at the University of Auckland; Romy Lee, Youth Advisory/Peer Workforce Development Lead at Whāraurau, Aotearoa’s national workforce development programme; and Dr Sam Manuela, Senior Lecturer at the School of Psychology at The University of Auckland.

Bindi Norwell, Group Chief Executive at ProCare attended the forum and received the feedback the groups had come up with throughout the day: “It was fantastic to be at the forum and hear from passionate rangatahi on issues that clearly mean a lot to them. There was a real buzz in the room, and we have received some fantastic feedback that we will take on board as an organisation to share with our general practices and colleagues across the healthcare arena.

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“I also want to say a big thank-you to our industry experts who shared their knowledge and expertise with the forum throughout the day. We hope your stories inspire our young people to follow in your footsteps and contribute to a better health system!” concludes Norwell.

Shaqaila Uelese, keynote speaker on mental health, says: “These kinds of events are so important for rangatahi from all walks of life to help them realise that the issues that they face, and often feel so isolated in dealing with, are actually more common than they may realise.

“Coming together in a room and discussing these issues helps them feel less alone and equips them with tools and resources to use in their everyday lives,” concludes Uelese.

Mihi Blair, Kaiwhakahaere Hauora Māori, Mana Taurite (GM of Māori Health and Equity), at ProCare says: “We had fantastic representation from our Māori and Pacific rangatahi at this forum, and we are so pleased we could capture their views.

“The forum topics, particularly vaping, alcohol and other drugs, disproportionately affect Māori and Pacific people over other ethnic groups, so having their input into how we can tackle these issues is fantastic,” concludes Blair.

The forum was led by ProCare’s Youth Advisory Group (YAG) and Equity team. YAG Co-Chair, Oggy Nweke, says “we are so grateful to ProCare and the University of Auckland for sponsoring this forum. From speaking to some of the attendees, they were excited to be part of something that valued their opinions on health issues that are so important, especially during this stage of life.

“We hope that the valuable insights into how youth perceive the health system will be taken on board by not only organisations like ProCare, but also Government,” concludes Nweke.

The information gathered at the forum will be used in shaping ProCare’s strategy for engaging youth in health and will inform advocacy and submissions on behalf of our communities.

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