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UnitedFuture Launches Youth Engagement Policy - Light

UnitedFuture Launches Youth Engagement Policy - Light

Damian Light, UnitedFuture’s Botany Candidate has today launched the party’s youth engagement policy.

The policy proposes an inquiry into voter engagement, with a particular focus on youth engagement and UnitedFuture’s longstanding proposal for independent civics education.

Speaking to students at Hobsonville Point Secondary School this morning, Mr Light said "If we want young people to be engaged in their futures, then we need to educate and empower them, and that is what this policy seeks to do."

UnitedFuture’s Policy is to:

Empower our youth:

Empower youth to be more involved in decisions that will affect their futures.

• Conduct an inquiry into youth engagement in elections including the feasibility of reducing the voting age to 16. Scope to include potential issues and mitigations;

• Ensure that every effort is made to ensure that all young people are enrolled to vote (when able to do so), by coordinating with schools;

• Review role of student representatives on school board of trustees and youth councils to ensure meaningful participation.

Educate our youth;

Ensure that young New Zealanders understand their civic rights and responsibilities;

• Introduce compulsory and comprehensive civics education from years 1-13, including information about elections, our electoral system, parliament, central and local government, courts, the Head of State and other institutions;

• Ensure that such education is independent and focuses on the mechanics of the Government and Society of New Zealand

• Create a fund (available to schools with disadvantaged students) to bring their students to Wellington to visit institutions such as Parliament, the Treaty of Waitangi, National Library, Te Papa, and to meet MPs, Ministers, the Governor-General, and Judges.

“Youth engagement in our civil society is vital, a young person who decided to vote when they turn eighteen is much more likely to continue voting and making their voice heard throughout their life.

“However, young people who do not vote are much less likely to vote as they age and their voices become lost to our democratic system.

“Democracy is too important to not be looking for ways to continue engaging as many people as possible,” said Mr Light.

On the proposed review of youth engagement and voting age, Mr Light said such a review would include how the change might be made as well as identifying all potential issues and what options are available to address them.

“This is not too hard a task we have proposed, we have seen a lower voting age work very successfully overseas and we need to be taking a long hard look at whether it is something we should consider here."

The policy includes UnitedFutures long held policy of civics education in schools along with a fund to assist students in visiting key sites and people including Parliament, Supreme Court and the Treaty of Waitangi. Also included is a review of the student representation on school boards of trustees and local councils.

“It's critical that we involve our youth in voting as decisions made by the government will impact them greater than older voters.”

“This policy focused on Youth Engagement is entirely consistent with our focus on future generations,” concluded Mr Light.


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