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Youth Affairs Policy

Julie Anne Genter MP
julieanne [dot] genter [at] parliament [dot] govt [dot] nz (Email)

Read the Youth Affairs Policy Summary

Download the Youth Affairs Policy as pdf

Spokesperson: Julie Anne Genter MP

Updated 2011


Young people are our future. The future they face is one of solving problems that have been generated or ignored by their parents' and grandparents' generations. Successive generations have permitted wholesale pollution of the environment, including climate change inducing emissions that will be the most significant threat to our planet in the future. In Aotearoa / New Zealand successive governments have commercialised education, implemented policies that keep wages low, and slashed welfare benefits - all in the name of promoting unsustainable economic growth. Young people are also disproportionately subjected to violence and encouraged into substance abuse and poor eating habits by alcohol and food advertising policies that target them as consumers rather than focus on harm reduction. Our young people are paying for this, and it is our young people who will be charged with rectifying it. Young people will inherit considerable power in the form of new technologies (e.g. biotechnology, nuclear technology and information technology). There is a need to ensure that there is appropriate understanding and awareness of the responsibilities that come with these new technologies.To meet these challenges, and to make New Zealand a fairer, more fun, more vibrant place to live, young people must be nurtured, supported and encouraged to get involved. We need to put policies in place that will guide and empower our young people to meet these challenges. As a society we also need to find positive ways of tapping into and utilising the tremendous creativity, energy and vision of our young people. The future starts today.


Youth: Young people between childhood and maturity. Age varies depending on socio-cultural and other factors, but typically between 12 and 24 years of age.


The Green Party envisions a world where young people are recognised, valued and supported. Young people's contribution to our communities is respected and encouraged. Young people have a sense of belonging and participation in society; they understand te Titiri o Waitangi and integrate this into their sense of identity. Young Maori are strong advocates of their tikanga and reo and are free from discrimination.

Key Principles

  1. Young people's intelligence, abilities and talents must be acknowledged and respected.
  2. Young people should be safe from violence.
  3. Young people should be fully supported by their family and be an integral and valued part of our society.
  4. Young people deserve a secure base from which they can express their creativity and discover life as an adventure.
  5. Young people must be encouraged and supported to take on positions of responsibility and decision making.
  6. Young people should receive equal pay for work of equal value.
  7. Structural and indirect discrimination against young people must be dismantled.
  8. New Zealand should honour our commitment to international conventions, treaties and standards that relate to the elimination of discrimination against young people.
  9. Rangatahi should be able to readily access their reo and tikanga; and their collective and individual indigenous rights are respected and recognised .

Specific Policy Points

1. Promoting conflict resolution in young people

In order to assist our young people to learn appropriate conflict resolution skills the Green Party will:

  1. Ensure that all schools and early childhood services have policies, practices, and programmes to create a whole school culture that is inclusive and supports the elimination of prejudice, racism, bullying intimidation, and violence.
  2. Support and fund initiatives that create positive school and societal violence-free cultures, e.g. QPEC (Quality Public Education Coalition) Values in Schools Programme, GSE's Eliminating Violence Programme, the Peace Foundation's Cool Schools Programme, and the PPTA's Safe Schools Programme for queer students, whanau/family, and teachers.
  3. Ensure that appropriate support and advice for parents and teachers responsible for young people is readily available.
  4. Promote the teaching of conflict resolution skills to encourage young people to avoid violence and to think in terms of justice and reconciliation.
  5. Increase educational and training programmes to deal with attitudes and behaviours that result in violence. These include non-violent conflict resolution in schools for young people and mandatory attendance at (culturally appropriate) behaviour modification courses for young people convicted of assault

2. Work and income support

The Green party believes that young adults aged 16 and over have the right to be able to live away from home unsupported by their family. They also they have the right to income support based on their need not on their age. The Green party will:

  1. Reintroduce a benefit for unsupported unemployed and sick young people aged 16 and 17.
  2. Retain the minimum wage for youth and trainee rates at the adult minimum wage, to remove the possibility of exploiting young workers.
  3. Make all unemployed students eligible for the unemployment benefit over the summer holiday, irrespective of parental income.
  4. Introduce a student emergency unemployment benefit for students over the summer holidays.
  5. Encourage and extend mutually beneficial relationships between schools and local businesses and outside organisations such as allowing for the provision of student work experience.
  6. Work with young people and communities to decide most appropriate age to start working, what is safe work for young people, to enable NZ to sign International Labour Organisation Convention 138.
  7. Ensure health and safety protections are in place for all workers, regardless of age.

3. Education

Young people have the right to a quality free education and training that is relevant to their needs. The Green party will:

  1. Support the introduction of an optional "gap year" doing a range of environmentally and socially constructive projects, to aid young people in their transition between school and further education and employment.
  2. Support supervised extra-curricular activities such as sports, drama, outward bound and surf life-saving as part of the standard education for young people.
  3. Incorporate environmental education into the core curriculum at all levels.
  4. Encourage teaching of civics education: our parliamentary system, te Titriti o Waitangi, the law and human rights in order to better equip young people for life.
  5. Work towards te reo and tikanga Maori being available to all young people.
  6. Increase the number of teen parent support programmes.
  7. Encourage participation by young people in the arts and crafts by increasing availability and access.
  8. Support human rights education as a core part of the curriculum.
  9. Protect the interests and identity of rainbow (including gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender) students in schools and tertiary institutions.
  10. Assist schools to develop and review strategies to ensure schools are safe for young people in New Zealand as international students, and that adequate English for Speakers of Other Languages services are provided.
  11. Work with schools, parents and communities to identify ways to ensure that no student misses out on education through exclusions, suspensions or prolonged or persistent absenteeism, and that serious cases are promptly followed up and dealt with.
  12. Introduce a universal student allowance, at the level of the unemployment benefit, for full-time students, including 16 and 17 year olds, in tertiary education.
  13. Work towards establishing a public 'fee-free' tertiary education system. As steps towards this, the Green Party will:
    a. Cap and then progressively reduce student fees.
    b. Investigate bonding, or other mechanisms of contribution, in exchange for fee-free tertiary education.
  14. Make study costs tax-deductible for part-time students who do not qualify for an allowance.
  15. Write off each year, the debt that it took them one year's worth of study to accrue, including all interest and living costs debt, for all those students who are contributing in paid or unpaid work in New Zealand.

4. Civic participation

The Green Party will:

  1. Ensure young people are represented or have a voice on local body committees/community boards.
  2. Amend the Local Government Act to require Councils to resource youth councils and employ child and youth advocates.
  3. Develop and promote new models of participation promoting civic engagement.

5. Promote health and wellbeing among young people

It is important to establish healthy living habits in young people before unhealthy life style trends become entrenched and expensive to treat or remedy. Currently young people are disproportionately encouraged into poor eating and living habits by alcohol and food advertising policies that target them as consumers. In order to promote health and wellbeing among young people the Green party will:

  1. Promote health initiatives specifically for young people.
  2. Ensure the inclusion of comprehensive health, sex and drug education at intermediate and secondary levels in order to educate students about the negative effects of anti-social or "risk-taking" behaviour and to discourage students from abusing legal or illegal substances.
  3. Ensure the gender-appropriate teaching of self-esteem, self-defence and sexual health to 10 to 14 year olds through a comprehensive school-based programme. It will address the link between low self-esteem and youthful smoking, addiction, suicide, eating disorders, pregnancy and risk of violence within domestic partnerships.
  4. Make it mandatory for the Education Review Office to audit implementation of the health education curriculum in every school review.
  5. Work towards free healthcare for all young people including increasing access and improving services for all no matter where they live. This care should include primary health care and dental care.
  6. Make young people's mental health services an urgent priority. These services must be improved and extended in line with the recommendations of the Mental Health Blueprint (1998) as fast as practicable.
  7. Review the explosive growth in the prescription of some drugs to young people.
  8. Research and provide independent advice on the economic, environmental and social issues that impact on health.
  9. Advocate for policies that reduce the underlying environmental and social causes of ill health.
  10. Identify and promote culturally appropriate programmes to address the public health needs of young Maori, Pasifika and other cultures' children.
  11. Support a partnership with schools and "rainbow" youth organisations to reduce the unacceptably high level of suicide and drug abuse among youth.
  12. Improve access to family planning and sexual health services to young people, in particular young women.

6. Reduce the harmful effects of alcohol and drugs on young people

At the moment young people are encouraged into alcohol and substance abuse by a culture of binge drinking and alcohol advertising policies that target them as consumers rather than focus on harm reduction. The Green Party believes that in order to reduce the harmful effects of all drugs on young people there is a need for an integrated approach to education around the use and misuse of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. The Green Party also recognises many problems relating to misuse of alcohol and drugs are issues for people of all ages and that young people are often being unfairly stereotyped in the media. Such negative stereotypes usually ignore the fact that the vast majority of young people are working and studying hard at school, employment and training, and are generally making a positive contribution to society. The Green Party will:

  1. Expand both youth and adult drug education, and ensure they are based on approaches that have been shown to:
    1. be successful in reducing drug abuse,
    2. be consistent with the approach taken by the Government's Youth Development Strategy, which focuses on building young people's sense of self-esteem and connection with their community'
    3. include information on the hazards of using cannabis and other drugs (legal and illegal)
  2. Ban broadcast alcohol advertising.
  3. Require compulsory health warnings on all alcohol products.
  4. Take an integrated harm reduction approach to drug and alcohol education for parents and treating parental substance abuse as first and foremost a health issue.
  5. Ensure that a comprehensive and effective drug education programme is available to schools and communities, which promotes a drug-free lifestyle as the healthiest and informs young people of the risks of using cannabis, alcohol and tobacco and other drugs.
  6. Ensure that young people who are already addicted or dependent on alcohol and other drugs have access to appropriate rehabilitation programmes specifically designed for them.
  7. Establish and adequately fund a Ministerial Advisory Group on Drug Education, to develop and implement measures for evaluating drug education programmes and to improve delivery of drug education messages, particularly to young people.
  8. Keep the legal age for purchase of alcohol at 18.
  9. Introduce a legal age limit of 18 years for personal cannabis use (to be consistent with alcohol). Those under 18 found in possession of cannabis would be treated in a way consistent with the Government's Youth Offending Strategy, which is aimed at preventing and reducing offending and re-offending by children and young people.

7. Youth Justice

The age at which offenders first enter the criminal justice system is significant, as the majority of male offenders in the adult system first entered the system as young people.To ensure that young people are treated appropriately in the justice system the Green Party will:

  1. Raise the age of criminal responsibility to 14.
  2. Include 17 year olds in the Children, Young Persons and their Families Act.
  3. Ensure young people under 18 are not held in police cells.
  4. Ensure that young people under 18 deprived of their liberty are not mixed with adults, outside of their family.
  5. Support the establishment of smaller scale, dispersed Youth Rehabilitation Centres to end the detention of young people in police cells and adult prisons, and to intensively address serious youth offending.
  6. Ensure increased resources for Family Group Conferences and training for FGC convenors.
  7. Ensure Maori tikanga and reo programmes are included in prisons and youth justice centres.
  8. Enable iwi and hapu collaboration in prison management to better support rangatahi.
  9. Support models of Maori justice systems for young offenders and promote wananga to transmit such knowledge.

8. Driver responsibility

The Green Party will:

  1. Review the system for obtaining a drivers licence to ensure that before obtaining a full drivers license, there has been adequate supervision, experience and defensive driving skills education.
  2. Support a review of the use of high-powered motor vehicles by young people.

9. Special Protection areas: Refugees

The Green Party will:

  1. Ensure refugee and asylum seeker young people enjoy equal rights with their New Zealand counterparts and that what is in the best interests of the young person is paramount in policy and decision-making.
  2. Appoint guardians for refugee and asylum seeker young people separated from their families, to ensure that their rights and well-being are protected.
  3. Ensure young refugees and asylum seekers have access to a well-resourced appropriate mental health and well-being systems.


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