The South Dunedin Social Sector Trial action plan is
out. Star reporter Jonathan Chilton-Towle spoke to
people involved in the trial about measures planned to improve
the outcomes for at-risk South Dunedin youth.
Ministry of Social Development South Dunedin trial manager
Mary-Ann McKibben says a social services hub for youth in
South Dunedin is on the cards. Photo by Jonathan
South Dunedin might soon be getting a youth employment
Social Sector Trial manager Mary-Ann McKibben said the
planned centre would be a place in South Dunedin where youth
could go to access all available employment and social
support in a less formal setting.
''It's a way of engaging with a disengaged group,'' she said.
The hub would need support and funding from the Ministry of
Social Development to go ahead and a decision on the
feasibility of the project was due next month, she said.
Establishing a hub is one of several measures laid out in the
South Dunedin Youth Action Plan, which was released this
Work and Income southern regional commissioner John Allen
said, on average, 550 people aged between 18 and 24 were out
of work in Dunedin at any one time.
This had showed no sign of dropping in recent years, which
showed the community was complacent and the paradigm needed
''We need the Dunedin community to say it does not accept
that a young person can leave school and go on a benefit.''
The idea for the youth hub had come out of a recent meeting
with Mayor Dave Cull and other community stakeholders and had
a lot of support, Mr Allen said.
Mr Cull said unemployment was one of the biggest issues
facing youth and tackling youth unemployment had to be done
by the whole community.
If the youth hub could help bring together services and
co-ordinate social support for Dunedin youth, then it would
be a good thing, he said.
A business case would need to be made for the hub, Mr Allen
said. However, he did not believe money would be a barrier.
The most important thing would be for the community to show
it could work together. South Dunedin has about 2700
Work and Income is engaged with 48 youths aged 16-18 in the
In the NZDep2006 deprivation index, South Dunedin scored 10,
putting it in the poorest 10% of areas in New Zealand.
Between June 2012 and May 2013, 229 offences were committed
in South Dunedin by 137 youth offenders. Of these offences,
55% were committed by 34 people.
According to Southern District Health Board figures,
9.6% of young people aged 16 to 24 in its area (4608 people)
had some kind of substance-abuse disorder.
The goals of the trial are to increase youth participation in
education, training and employment, reduce youth offending,
reduce alcohol and drug use, and increase collaboration,
communication and co-ordination between relevant agencies.
Other community-led measures discussed in the plan included
establishing a ''Moving Forward'' programme based on
Balclutha's successful ''Ready Steady Work'' programme,
creating more low-cost activities for youth, improving drug
and alcohol education, and re-invigorating the Maori Warden
scheme and Youth Offending Team.