Friday, September 9, 2011

RWC Powered by Goodwill, Volunteers and Youth


New Zealand is a world leader in volunteerism, in 2008 1,250,000 of us served as volunteers, around 1/4 of our population. The kinds of roles we are prepared to do for no remuneration vary immensely and firefighting, search and rescue, St John's Ambulance, Red Cross, PTA's, meals on wheels and a myriad of sports organisations are some examples.

Estimates put the value to our country of volunteer efforts to be around $3.5 billion. I was surprised to discover that the age band that is most likely to do volunteer work is actually the youngest, those aged between 12 and 24 years average around 70 hours annually in non paid service. I think the enthusiasm and efforts of the student army after the Christchurch Earthquake caused many to reassess how we regard the capability and sense of community that exists amongst our youth.

Watching the opening of the RWC I was impressed by the fact that much of the entertainment and enthusiasm behind the hugely successful extravaganza was reliant on the volunteering of thousands of young people.

I hope that our youth, and the value they add to our communities and nation, will not be sidelined after this event. The fact that 27% of teenagers are unemployed and that they have the highest suicide rate in the OECD should not be swept under the carpet. Tertiary education places have been cut and there are not enough training schemes to supply the skilled workforce that we will need in the near future.

It appears that this Government is ignoring its responsibilities for ensuring that the capabilities and opportunities for our youngest citizens are as good as they should be. What is most galling to me is that they intend to rub salt into the already raw wound of underemployment be removing the self respect of those who most need it through their draconian youth payment scheme. Yet again it is easier to blame the victims for their lack of opportunities than do something that would make a real difference.

The Green Party understand the issues, have been strong advocates for youth in the past and our policies provide practical solutions for ensuring future generations are well prepared for the challenges ahead.

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