Invercargill Conservation Corps

  • Tony Ryall
Youth Affairs

On the tenth anniversary of the establishment of the Conservation Corps in New Zealand, the Minister of Youth Affairs, Tony Ryall, visited a conservation programme in Invercargill whose young graduates have had a remarkable success rate.

The Invercargill Conservation Corps programme is part of a community-based youth development programme which runs throughout New Zealand and world-wide. The programme's target audience is young people, aged from 16 to 25, over half of which have no formal qualifications.

"These programmes give young people, who wouldn't otherwise get the chance, the opportunity to develop their work skills, self-esteem, confidence and qualifications. The Conservation Corps also makes a very positive contribution to the environment," said Mr Ryall.

"Southland YMCA Education has been running the Conservation Corps programme in Invercargill since 1996 and before then programmes were run in Southland for six years by the Department of Conservation.

"Since Southlands YMCA Education took over in 1996, almost 100 people have graduated from these programmes. There's been a tremendous success rate -- eight out of ten of these young people have either found employment or gone on to further study or training within six months of completing the course.

"Since 1996, six conservation corps projects have been run in Invercargill. The ten young people currently in the Conservation Corps have been together since July and will complete the programme in December. They have put in seating, a windbreak and a sandpit at Otatara school and have done some excellent environmental work around the city.

"Southlands YMCA Education is also operating a pilot Conservation Corps project at Invercargill prison. One programme has been already been completed and three more are planned by June 2000. At this early stage the pilot programmes are proving to be successful. The inmates, mostly aged 19-21 and nearing release, take a twelve week course where they learn new skills, a strong work ethic, gain motivation and improve their relationships with people."