Youth WorksDeborah Morris Youth Affairs
In December last year I signed the Ottawa Treaty on behalf of the Government. Countries that sign the Ottawa Treaty commit themselves to ban the use, stockpiling, production, import and export of anti-personnel mines. Existing minefields will also be cleared.
There are between 60 and 120 million active landmines scattered around the world. They explode without warning when you step on one. And they kill or injure 500 people every week - many of them young.
New Zealand Defence Force personnel have first-hand experience of the horrors of the landmine crisis from participating in demining operations in many parts of the world. We have sent teams to demining operations in Afghanistan, Angola, Cambodia, Mozambique, and Laos.
We also make a substantial financial contribution to the work of the United Nations and national institutions working to get rid of landmines.
Landmines are not just a matter of foreign policy or defence. The Ottawa Treaty seeks to make the world a safer place for young people, and all of us.
The old saying “sticks and bones may break my bones but names will never hurt me” is wrong - names can hurt. And that’s just one form of bullying.
About 75 percent of kids have reported being bullied. The only experience that rated higher as the worst things that had happened to them was the death of someone close.
Young people have said they have been punched, kicked, beaten, the subject of catty gossip or been “narked” on, threatened, frightened or called names.
The government funds several programmes in schools to stop bullying. These include Kia Kaha, Managing Violence Course, Keeping Ourselves Safe programme, DARE to Make a Change, and the Reaching Out and Reaching Forward programme which looks at self esteem and communication.
Look out for the people around you and help stop bullying.
Last year I launched the Telecom-Police Stop Bullying Campaign. If you want to find out what it’s all about or need some information, call the interactive free help line on 0800 NO BULLY (0800 66 2855).
Why not check out the NO BULLY web page where there are heaps of ideas and information and even a couple of games to check out. www.nobully.org.nz
Do You Know the Facts About Drugs?
When you think of ‘drugs’, you might only think of drugs like cannabis, LSD, heroin, speed and ecstasy - drugs which are always in the papers…drugs which are illegal. There are lots of different types of drugs out there.
Some drugs, like medicines, are designed to cure illness or control pain - some you can only get from doctors (like antibiotics) but others can be bought from shops (like aspirin, paracetamol and cough mixture).
But some people choose to take drugs for other reasons - they think they’ll have a good time or that their problems will go away.
Some drugs like tobacco and alcohol are sold legally under certain conditions.
Drugs like cannabis, ecstasy, LSD or heroin are most definitely illegal.
It’s a really confusing business because all drugs are different, have different effects different purposes and have differing legal status. The one thing that they all have in common though, is they all carry risks:
- they can damage your health in the short or long term
- many can even kill
- using illegal drugs puts you at risk of getting into serious trouble with the law
- you might have an extreme reaction
- you can’t be sure what you’re getting.
So make sure you know the facts about drugs, make informed choices and stay safe. The recent advert by ALAC put it well for alcohol, and it works well for drugs too. Just think - “where’s that drink taking you?” “Where will those drugs take you?”
The Government has recently announced an extra $3 million to provide more drug education in schools.
Get a life - join the Corps!
Conservation and Youth Service Corps programmes are run by the Ministry of Youth Affairs.
Youth Service Corps involves projects such as restoring buildings or working with community groups. Conservation Corps involves projects like planting native trees, upgrading walking tracks and other activities helping the environment.
Project members also get involved in learning lifeskills and taking part in outdoor pursuits such as abseiling, rafting or tramping. Participants may also have the chance to gain NZQA units.
This year the government will spend $9.5 million on Corps projects. These have proved to be one of the most successful employment training programmes with up to 80% of participants entering employment, education or training.
Since their establishment 10 years ago Conservation and Youth Service Corps have contributed more than 1million hours of community service.
You can join a Corps programme if you’re aged between 16-25. To join a Youth Service Corps project you have to be a Youth Action client of the Employment Service.
If you want to join a project, contact your local Employment Service centre or the Ministry of Youth Affairs. You’ll have an awesome time, so just do it!
A year full of action for young people
The Government is doing a lot for young people this year.
Schools will receive $270 million more funding this year thanks to the substantial new investment in education.
We are starting to deal with youth suicide, with an information campaign on how to identify and deal with those at risk of committing suicide; an extra $10.8 million to improve delivery of mental health services for young people; improved training for youth workers; training for school Guidance Counsellors; and an investigation of the best options to support community programmes targeting those most at risk of committing suicide.
This year the Government will be spending nearly $3 million on youth One Stop Shops, which offer the services of nurses and GPs, specialist services (such as sexual health, contraception, drug and alcohol, mental health) counselling, referral to external specialist services and they also provide a wide range of information on issues such as education, health, justice, income support and recreation.
I will be working to develop a Youth Policy; a strategic document to help shape the relationship Government has with the youth population into the next century.
The Ministry of Youth Affairs will also be looking at youth unemployment, tertiary education, issues facing young men, sexual health, drug and alcohol strategies, road safety, youth rights and youth participation.
Young people wanting to have their say should write or email me. I’d love to hear from you.
Amazing Young People
While the recent emphasis on youth suicide, truancy, suspensions, drugs, alcohol and crime highlights issues that are of concern - we mustn’t get things out of perspective.
There are young musicians, sports people, debaters, mathematicians, skateboarders, artists and academics who are all achieving at the top of their field, but rarely get the recognition and media coverage they deserve.
A few of the people who deserve a special mention are:
14 year old Nicholas is a young New Zealander who has demonstrated he has the right skills to leap into the new millennium.
He has designed a computer programme that will allow older PCs to work after 31st December 1999. This problem has been of major concern to people right around the world and now a young New Zealander has come up with a solution. It’s amazing.
Nicholas’s work outshines many of the big computer companies who have been trying to find a solution to this problem for the last few years. His youthful perspective has allowed him to look at the problem without the baggage that designers at Microsoft or IBM might have.
Another 14 year old, Elke Braun-Elwert has managed to reach the history books. She has become the youngest person ever to climb Mt Cook. It was quite an achievement requiring a lot of hard work and determination.
Youth Skills Olympians:
The New Zealand Youth Skills Olympic Team competed against other countries in Switzerland last year. Chosen from over 700 other competitors, these young ambassadors represented our country in events as diverse as mechatronics, bricklaying, hairdressing and joinery, where they demonstrated their skills under test conditions.
The Youth Skills Olympics enables competitors to apply their expertise in a range of areas. In order to be a successful country in international terms, we need to have a solid base of skilled trades people who are able to produce the best possible quality.
These are just a few of the amazing young New Zealanders. Let me know if you know of a young person who has done something extraordinary. I know there are heaps of awesome youth out there!
Hon Deborah Morris
Minister of Youth Affairs
ph: 04 471 9977
fax: 04 471 1443