Poor re­port for youth

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By AN­DREA O’NEIL

Porirua’s youth are fail­ing school and suf­fer­ing poor health de­spite abun­dant so­cial ser­vices, a new re­port has shown, but Porirua City Coun­cil is un­sure how much in­volve­ment to take.

A coun­cil- com­mis­sioned re­port, Porirua Youth Needs As­sess­ment, was pre­sented to the coun­cil on March 1. It was in­tended as a study into the vi­a­bil­ity of a youth drop-in cen­tre in Porirua, but its au­thor Awhina Buchanan col­lected re­search to present a broad snap­shot of the city’s 12 to 24-year-olds.

‘‘Porirua con­tin­ues to have high rates of skin in­fec­tions, rheumatic fever, and res­pi­ra­tory in­fec­tions, and at the four main sec­ondary schools, the NCEA Level 2 pass rate for Maori and Pa­cific stu­dents are sig­nif­i­cantly lower than Pakeha/ Euro­pean,’’ Ms Buchanan wrote.

This is de­spite the pres­ence of at least 45 so­cial ser­vices and 43 health ser­vices in the city, plus 200 sports pro­grammes and many so­cial work­ers in schools.

‘‘The is­sue might be young peo­ple’s knowl­edge of ex­ist­ing ser­vices; or fur­ther still, whether ex­ist­ing in­ter­ven­tions are tar­get­ing young peo­ple ap­pro­pri­ately.’’

Youth drop-in cen­tres have not been proven to im­prove young peo­ple’s health and typ­i­cally strug­gle with fund­ing, Ms Buchanan writes. How­ever, she rec­om­mended coun­cil ap­point a youth de­vel­op­ment ad­vi­sor, a po­si­tion which has been va­cant since April 2011.

The ad­viser would sup­port an ex­ist­ing Youth Ad­vi­sory Group (YAG), help­ing young peo­ple get in­volved with the com­mu­nity and shape their vil­lage plans. Coun­cil should also con­duct a reg­u­lar youth sur­vey, as in­for­ma­tion on young peo­ple was piece­meal and in­com­plete.

Coun­cil­lor Bron­wyn Kropp got full coun­cil ap­proval at a meet­ing last Wed­nes­day to re­in­state a part-time youth de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer. She hopes the role will be filled ‘‘as soon as pos­si­ble’’. Money has re­mained in the coun­cil’s bud­get for the po­si­tion since last March, she said.

Ms Kropp also hopes a dropin cen­tre will be es­tab­lished by an­other or­gan­i­sa­tion now coun­cil has de­cided against do­ing so.

At the coun­cil’s March 1 meet­ing, coun­cil­lors strug­gled with how they could sup­port YAG and im­prove young peo­ple’s lives.

‘‘My ad­vice is to get spe­cific and say ‘this is where we can fit’. It’s about where you see you can add some value,’’ mayor Nick Leggett told YAG mem­ber Nopera Den­nisMc­carthy, who had asked coun­cil for more en­gage­ment with YAG.

Sev­eral coun­cil­lors em­pha­sised that get­ting hands-on with ser­vices was not their duty.

‘‘The coun­cil’s role is not to be the provider of things but to be the fa­cil­i­ta­tor,’’ Ken Dou­glas said. He sug­gested groups full of young peo­ple, like sports clubs, could be en­cour­aged to re­port on the state of their young mem­bers, sav­ing the coun­cil do­ing so.

‘‘We want to stretch their think­ing and in­volve­ment.’’

The re­port’s au­thor Ms Buchanan told coun­cil­lors they needed to de­cide on their in­volve­ment and act or more young peo­ple will un­der­per­form. ‘‘ Un­less we look se­ri­ously at what we’re do­ing we’re go­ing to come back in five years and find noth­ing’s changed.’’

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