Ka tautoko mātou i te hunga rangatahi kia tōnui ai We help young people to thrive

There is strong evidence that positive youth development supports young people to participate confidently in their communities by building their capability and resilience. Through the Ministry of Youth Development – Te Manatū Whakahiato Taiohi (MYD), we support young people aged 12 to 24 years to increase their overall wellbeing so that they succeed in, contribute to and enjoy life. MYD also provides advice to the Minister for Youth to support her advocacy role for young people.

In 2020/21 we contributed nearly $11 million to 127 provider organisations to deliver youth development and youth enterprise programmes or services to almost 69,000 young people.

Just under 10,000 young people submitted participant feedback surveys to tell us what they thought about the programmes or services they took part in. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with 86 percent of participants reporting that they had seen a significant improvement in their outcomes through participation in a funded youth development and/or youth enterprise programme or service.

Turning youth voices into action: the Youth Plan 2020–2022

MYD is leading the delivery and implementation of Youth Plan 2020–2022: Turning Voice into Action – Rebuilding and Recovering (the Youth Plan) as an action under the Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy’s current programme of action. The Youth Plan shares the Strategy’s vision, principles and outcomes, and contributes to its achievement for young people.

The Youth Plan sets out actions that the Government will take, in partnership with others, to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 for young people. It aims to ensure that young people have a say in decisions about recovery, to support the wellbeing of young people and their families and whānau, to enable youth leadership, and to drive transformative change across government.

The Youth Plan is about working collaboratively across numerous government agencies: there are 16 Youth Plan cross-agency actions. The first six-monthly report for the Youth Plan, which the Minister for Youth provided to Cabinet in April 2021, showed there had been good progress on the majority of Youth Plan actions, including:

  • the Health Promotion Agency Te Hiringa Hauora and MYD partnered together to co-fund DMs – Deep and Meaningful, an initiative focused on how young people have coped with the disruption of COVID-19 and sharing effective and healthy coping mechanisms with other young people
  • MYD has created research partnerships with various NGOs to increase government and the sector’s knowledge and understanding of cohorts of young people impacted by COVID-19.

Further activity is well under way across government to continue to implement the actions of the Youth Plan.

Youth Voice: The Hive

The Hive supports and encourages young people to contribute their thoughts and opinions to government in a way that works for them. It focuses on strengthening communication between young people and government agencies through the Hivers, to help build trust and enable and empower young people to engage with issues of interest to them.

In 2021 the Climate Change Commission engaged The Hive to host a conversation with young people on how they believed Aotearoa New Zealand should respond to the looming threat of climate change. The Hive ran a three-week campaign, using a range of tools including easy-to-understand infographics and interactive social media tools, on key topics such as energy, waste, nature, transport and education. The Commission presented the findings from the campaign to a Parliamentary select committee in February 2021.

In May 2021 MYD and The Hive co-presented to senior policy staff across government at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet’s Policy Project Forum. The presentation highlighted some key strategies to ensure the youth voice is involved in policy discussions and development early, and provided helpful tips on how to work positively with young people.

Responding to the impact of COVID-19 on young people

Ākonga Youth Development Community Fund

In partnership with the Ministry of Education, MYD established the Ākonga Youth Development Community Fund in November 2020.

The Ākonga Fund supports ākonga/learners aged 12 to 21 years who have been adversely affected by the impact of COVID-19 to stay engaged in their education journey. It helps them develop stronger connections with self, their whānau and wider communities, and have greater engagement in their learning and aspirations for their future.

In line with the Youth Plan, the Ākonga Fund has a particular focus on programmes that support rangatahi Māori, Pacific young people, Rainbow young people, and disabled young people.

The Ākonga Fund has invested in 28 iwi- and community-based organisations delivering youth development programmes for ākonga across two years (2020–2022). These programmes will support 5,500 ākonga across Aotearoa New Zealand.

The programmes we have invested in through the Ākonga Fund to support young people to thrive include:

  • Career Navigator Community Porirua (Graeme Dingle Foundation Wellington), which supports young people to understand the realities of the world of work, develop skills and knowledge and make informed career decisions, and inspire them to succeed.
  • Bubblegum (South Seas Healthcare Trust), a mentoring and tutoring programme delivered using culturally relevant practices to support eligible Pacific young people to stay engaged in education and be their own agents of change
  • Te Hiringa (Te Waiariki Purea Trust), an intensive programme with progressive adventure activities for rangatahi Māori that includes whānau participation, one-on-one support, home visits, support to get back into learning, and follow-up mentoring.

Support for youth providers

As alert levels moved throughout 2020/21, MYD was aware that around the motu, rangatahi and their whānau were facing different and sometimes difficult challenges.

We worked closely with youth sector providers to identify and help with immediate pressures. Youthline reported a surge in helpline contacts and an increase in care and protection matters. Young people reported feeling isolated, stressed, anxious and depressed. MYD supported Youthline with additional funding to meet the increased demand and support young people through difficult times.

To address the immediate and ongoing uncertainty experienced by providers and to reduce the burden of contestable processes on them, particularly when funding is already stretched, MYD offered eligible providers a one-off 12-month contract extension in 2021/22. This was to ensure stability and security, allowing them to focus on meeting increased demand from young people for services.

Youth Health and Wellbeing Survey

MSD is leading the first national Youth Health and Wellbeing Survey WhatAboutMe?, which is seeking the views of 14,000 young people aged between 12 and 18 years in schools, kura Kaupapa, alternative education units, and Youth One Stop Shops. Since March 2021 researchers have been travelling around New Zealand with youth workers from local communities to hear from young people.

The survey will increase the representation of child and youth voices, and data will help to measure the implementation of the Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy and the Youth Plan. Results will be available to the public in early 2022.