Youth report racism, violence and poverty as key themes in life - report

By Talisa Kupenga

The new 'What makes A Good Life' report released today shows that drugs, poverty, violence and discrimination are prevalent themes preventing youth from living happy lives. Oranga Tamariki and the Children's Commissioner surveyed more than 6000 youth to hear their thoughts.

Being valued, supported and culturally accepted is what rangatahi say they need to lead happy lives.

Youth Mobiliser Chillion Sanerivi says "we forget to talk to youth and approach them and recognise how valuable they are and knowing that they do have a voice. A voice to be part of society and a voice to help make change."

More than half of respondents surveyed were Māori. Racism, bullying, negative stereotypes and the stigma of being in care were key issues they raised.

Oranga Tamariki Deputy Chief Executive for Voices of Children Hoani Lambert says "it's not just one thing with Māori children. Usually there are a number of experiences that they're having all at the same time challenges that adds to the complexity of their lives however the other thing that we heard was that Māori children want their families to be supportive, so 'you help me by helping my whānau'."

Youth acknowledged that providing the basics to live was important but not enough, the importance of whānau, and the need to be welcoming of diversity.

Sanerivi says "they're no longer only just Māori or Pasifika they are now becoming quite mixed and the challenges that come with that is trying to find their place in the community. But what's important here is that young people’s voice are to be part of that solution."

The report findings will inform Government's Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy.