Ministry of Youth Affairs Briefing

Deborah Morris Youth Affairs


This report provides a briefing of the key aspects of the Ministry of Youth
Affairs, and the current focus and direction of the portfolio, with a
particular emphasis on how the policy work of the Ministry adds value
to policy development across other relevant portfolio areas.

It complements existing key documents produced by the Ministry of Youth Affairs. These are:

  • Realising the Potential and A Guide to Realising the Potential - Ministry of Youth Affairs Youth Policy Framework publications released in June 1996 - the first describing key issues for young people and the range of current Government policies, programmes and legislation addressing them, organised within the five interrelated themes of family, learning, working, well-being, and citizenship; the second, providing a guide to analysing and developing policy and legislation impacting on young people, putting them at the centre of the analysis;
  • 15-25 A Youth Statistical Profile;
  • The 1996/97 Estimates and Departmental Forecast Report; and
  • the 1995/96 Annual Report.
  • The report is in six main sections:
  • The Ministry of Youth Affairs: a description of the role and function of the Ministry, the output structure of the Vote; the organisational structure and staffing, and the key operating principles which allow the Ministry to focus its relatively small team to maximise effectiveness;
  • A Youth Profile: a brief statistical summary of the youth population;
  • Key Policy Issues for Young People: a description organised under the five themes of Realising the Potential; the major trends for the youth population, including recent policy developments and current Ministry of Youth Affairs project work;
  • Strategic Overview Issues in the Youth Sector: a summary of key issues which transcend all the policy work which the Ministry does, and form the alternative perspective which is the basis of the contestable policy advice which the Ministry of Youth Affairs offers the Government;
  • Communication and Facilitation: a summary of the initiatives
    supported by the Ministry to encourage the participation of young
    people in New Zealand life, and a description of the publications which
    the Ministry produces for young people; and
  • the Conservation Corps and Youth Service Corps: a description and
    summary of the main achievements of the two youth development
    programmes for which the Ministry is responsible.

Catherine Gibson
Chief Executive

The principal role of the Ministry of Youth Affairs is "to promote the direct participation of young people aged between 12 and 25 years in the social, economic and cultural development of New Zealand both locally and nationally."

The scope of the Ministry's work is determined by the Purchase Agreement, which is negotiated with the Minister of Youth Affairs. The agreement sets out those outputs the Ministry will deliver to the Government during a financial year. The agreement is completed before the announcement of the Government's budget each year.

The work undertaken by the Ministry must add value to the responsibilities of a range of other government agencies in respect of young people. The Ministry is in a prime position to promote co-ordination across portfolios, identify gaps and duplication, and lead in areas where co-operation is essential.

Identifying the levels and mix of Government's expenditure on the youth population is important to provide strategic policy advice. For the 1996/97 year it is conservatively estimated that Government will spend 4.3 billion dollars on the youth population, roughly two-thirds of which is spent in the education sector. The 4.3 billion dollars excludes health expenditure and Votes with limited connection to youth activities. The Ministry is currently working to increase the integrity of youth-related expenditure figures across Government agencies.

The Ministry has three outputs. These are:

  • policy advice;
  • communication and facilitation; and
  • grants administration.

Poliy Advice

The Ministry provides policy advice on major issues affecting young people. This includes undertaking and identifying research to inform its advice. In 1996/97 policy advice is being provided under the following four sub classes:

  • the identification of needs, and the development of policy solutions for at risk/disadvantaged youth;
  • the provision of advice which enhances the ability of young people to reach their full potential and achieve excellence;
  • the provision of advice on the effectiveness of models
    of co-operation and integration in the delivery of programmes and
    services to young people; and
  • Ministerial servicing.

Communication and Facilitation

The communication and facilitation output, in particular, undertakes to:

  • increase knowledge and information about young people;
  • communicate integrated information to young people on government policies;
  • increase participation of young people in local/national decision making;
  • fulfil international obligations; and
  • complete related Ministerial servicing.

It contributes to the policy advice output through regular targeted consultation with young people and those who work with them.

Grants Administration

This output primarily involves the management of contracts for the delivery of the New Zealand Conservation Corps (NZCC) and the youth Service Corps (YSC) programmes. It also includes administration of the payment to the Commonwealth Youth Programme and ministerial servicing related to the NZCC and the YSC.

Both the YSC and the NZCC are development programmes that aim to improve the
long term employment prospects and life chances of young people.

Organisational Structure and Staffing

The Ministry is organised into five units that broadly reflect its three main outputs. The groups are:

  • Policy;
  • Grants Administration;
  • Communication and Facilitation;
  • Administration and Finance; and
  • CEO Support.

Maximising Effectiveness

The Ministry must ensure that the
interests of young people are properly considered by decision makers in
political, economic, social and cultural matters. It has the ability,
as distinct from other government agencies which have specific
portfolio responsibilities, to do this in an integrated manner

The Ministry uses its small resource, in comparison to its given and bold purpose, strategically and to advantage. It must gain authority through influence. It does this through:

  • focusing on those areas where it can make a difference within the three inter-related Strategic Results Areas of Education and Training, Community Security, Health and Disability Services;
  • using expert data-bases and specialist methodologies to inform its own work and those of other agencies;
  • establishing alliances with key stakeholders in government, the community and the private sector;
  • using its ability to shift focus quickly in response to rapidly changing issues;
  • using its neutrality to broker policy discussions across portfolio interests; and
  • using its operationally based work to inform its policy focus.