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Dalziel: Investment, Identity and Independence

Investment, Identity and Independence represent the key focus of Labour's youth policy released today.

Youth affairs spokesperson Lianne Dalziel said the policy contained aspects of other Labour policies as they affected young New Zealanders as well as some exciting initiatives specific to young people.

"What this policy tells young people is that we value and respect their role in New Zealand society. Under Labour all policy proposals will be analysed for their impact on young New Zealanders," Lianne Dalziel said.

"We are going to establish key indicators by which the quality of life of young New Zealanders can be assessed.

"We are prepared to invest in young people through strong health, education and training policies.

"We will restore a training benefit to 16 and 17 year olds and charge no interest on student loans while full-time students are still studying. We will have a modern apprenticeship system.

"In the health area - Labour will have a youth health strategy which will both ensure mainstream health services are responsive to the needs of young people and which will develop youth specific primary health care services. It will focus on areas like youth suicide; death and disability from motor accidents; unplanned pregnancies and STDs; smoking; eating difficulties and related issues; drug, alcohol and solvent abuse; and dental health problems."

"Labour has focused on Identity for young people in recognition that they need to be able to participate fully in their communities, have their views heard, and gain a sense of belonging.

"For instance, we will maintain an interactive 'Youthspeak' website which will encourage young people to express views on issues of interest to them and the Ministry of Youth Affairs will be required to construct and maintain a Youth Appointments Register similar to that maintained by the Ministry of Women's Affairs and Te Puni Kokiri. Over time, we want to ensure youth representation in relevant appointments. Ministers appoint people to a wide range of boards and advisory bodies and in many cases, the input of a young person would be invaluable. Without it, there is a danger that only lip service is paid to the needs and culture of young people within the decision-making process.

"Labour believes young people also need opportunities to develop their identity through artistic, creative, cultural, recreational and sporting activities. Our arts policy contains a lot of exciting initiatives to encourage and support cultural identity among young New Zealanders.

"Independence covers issues of employment, justice and social security - like giving young people a fairer deal in the workplace and reducing the age of majority to 18 years of age, to bring New Zealand into line with international practice.

"Labour will be consulting with the community law centres which already focus on youth services to develop and enhance the availability of youth focused legal advice and support across the whole country."

Lianne Dalziel said that with more than a third of the country's population under 25-years-old, no political party could afford to ignore their needs.

"A strong and healthy society will depend on the well-being of our children and young people and increasing the opportunities we provide them," Lianne Dalziel said.

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