The budget delivers very little for young New Zealanders – especially those living in the Gisborne region. It is good that the government is putting more money into youth health services but should not have prescribed the model of care – regional authorities are best placed to decide on local priorities and the most effective ways to meet the needs of young people.
It is very disappointing to see no new investment in youth justice and nothing to fill the gaping chasm in programmes that build protective factors against offending through strengthening positive connections between young people and their community. Unlike other funding processes within the Ministry of Social Development, funding from the Ministry of Youth Development is ad hoc and inconsistently distributed across the country. Family and Community Services, the division of MSD with responsibility for resourcing preventative programmes and community development is not fulfilling it’s mandate and we will see more young people and families moving faster to the more costly end of needs continuum.
As a number of other commentators have already pointed out the $171 million tagged for the school sector will not be enough to meet the government goals of reducing teacher to student ratios and retaining high quality teaching staff.
Labour are being prudent in their expenditure – and if National were in power further tax cuts would mean further cuts to essential services – but I have quite different priorities to both parties and would much more resources into helping communities develop realistic long-term plans for reducing reliance on government. I don’t think young people will ever be a high priority for public spending until they are given the vote or participate in more substantial ways in public policy decision-making.