Four Million Hours Of Conservaton Corps

  • Tony Ryall
Youth Affairs

On its tenth anniversary, the Conservation Corps is one of the Government's most successful employment programmes with four out of five participants going on to work or other training and education within six months of leaving the programme, Youth Affairs Minister Tony Ryall said at a conference in Wellington to mark the tenth anniversary of the Conservation Corps.

"Since 1988, over 10,000 young people have been through 787 Conservation Corps programmes contributing a total of four million hours of conservation and community work," Mr Ryall said.

"The Conservation Corps is the longest running Government programme for young people.

"In the last decade, hundreds of tracks have been built and maintained, thousands of trees planted, many murals painted, historic places restored, and more weed control carried out than I would care to imagine.

"Conservation Corps is a programme that has put young people back in touch with the working world and education system, with their families, their peers and their community.

"The Conservation Corps programme has also recently been piloted in Rimutaka, Rolleston and Invercargill Prisons. The pilot programmes help young inmates who are nearing release from prison with conservation skills, good work habits, communication skills and the ability to work in a team.

"Early indications are that the pilot programmes in prisons are having a very positive impact on the participants.

"For many young people, Conservation Corps is the first programme they have been on that helps them with personal development, rather than simply focusing on specific educational or employment needs.

"Conservation Corps programmes are often involved in helping young people with family problems and working through drug and alcohol dependency issues. The programmes encourage people to set goals and career planning and link them into the support structures and networks of their local community."

To be eligible to enroll on a Conservation Corps programme participants must be between 16 and 25 years old and it helps to be enrolled as a jobseeker with Work and Income NZ.

The Conservation Corps was established in 1988 as an inter-departmental effort by the Departments of Labour, Conservation, Maori Affairs, Youth Affairs and Education.

In 1990 the administration of the programme was transferred to the newly established Ministry of Youth Affairs.

In 1995, the Youth Service Corps was established to bring a more urban community service focus.

There are currently 72 Corps projects operating from Kaitaia to Invercargill, 65 Conservation Corps and 7 Youth Service Corps. Courses operate twice a year.