The call has gone out to establish a Tauranga Youth Council to give young people a greater say in the city’s future direction.
Members of Voice of Youth Development (VOYD) and the Tauranga Youth Development Team (TYTD) joined forces this week and are asking Tauranga City Council to set up a forum, such as a youth council, where the voice of the younger generation can be regularly heard.
Bethlehem College student Daniella Schroder is calling for a youth council in Tauranga.
The request was among submissions to the council Ten Year Plan.
Speaking on behalf of VOYD Bethlehem College student Daniella Schroder says the group of 60 Western Bay young people is keen to have a youth council so they can be more involved in Tauranga’s future.
“There are youth councils all over New Zealand and we believe there should be one here. Despite being New Zealand’s fifth-largest city we don’t have a recognised forum for us young people to express our perspective.”
The youth group, which involves young people from Katikati to Te Puke, was set up in October 2010 to provide a forum to discuss issues that affect young people and their ideas to improve the region.
“Despite being the fifth largest city in New Zealand, Tauranga is one of the few city councils that don’t have a formal forum for young people to have an input on council facilities, organized activities and development that affect them.”
Daniella believes young people will be more motivated to return to Tauranga after completing their tertiary studies if they feel their ideas have been listened to and they have helped shape the area into an attractive place for young people.
“The way I see it if young people are stimulated and feel like they are part of the community they will want to be more involved in the area’s future.”
Tauranga Youth Development Team coordinator Becks Watts, who runs the network that represents 28 Western Bay agencies that deal with young people, says the council needs to actively support young people and provide a platform for their voice to be heard.
“Many young people have such passion and great ideas and are willing to fight for a cause. Who wouldn’t want the life and potential that a teenager brings speaking into the future of our city?”
Tauranga had a youth forum connected to the council from 2004-2008, but it folded due to funding issues.
Council strategic planner Cheryl Steiner says the youth group was independent of the council (from Tauranga Moana Youth Trust and Youth Council). The council had a “relationship agreement” with the trust, providing $50,000 to fund the youth trust coordinator role.
A council report states the council engaged the trust and youth council “to help deliver actions for the community outcome – a great place to grow up.” The trust disbanded in 2008 due to funding issues, and a request for increased council funding was declined.
In 2008 the council setup the Youth Engagement Project to look at how young people can be involved in the council’s decision-making process.
In September 2009 the council resolved that the council implement a youth engagement toolkit for council projects or issues that youth may be interested in, hold an annual youth forum to discuss any issues or projects they may be interested in. Funding of $20,000 per annum has been set aside to implement these initiatives.