Youth's opinions to inform policy

Youth satisfaction with the education, entertainment and employment opportunities in the Waitaki district falls as the district's youth ages, preliminary results from the 2015 Safer Waitaki Youth Survey indicate.

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said he believed the findings of the online survey in which 425 respondents aged 14-25 answered questions on topics such as community participation, perception of local facilities, community safety, education, and employment, gave statistical weight to anecdotal evidence in the town of Oamaru that had been ''out there for a very long time''.

However, he said there were several factors behind the survey results which could suggest dissatisfaction among some young Waitaki residents, including a lack of opportunities for youth, as well as those that should be considered an ''age and stage thing''.

''A bit of it certainly is because of our size we don't have certain things, but I think a lot of it is ... people are used to whatever environment that they've grown up in,'' he said.

''You do get that even in large places - they [youth] want change, they want to go and explore, it seems to be a fairly natural thing.

''Inevitably, it seems that in places like Oamaru over the decades, as teenagers get closer to 20 ... as they get more of a social world outside of their family unit ... the old bright lights of the city start looking more attractive.''

Safer Waitaki began canvassing the district's youth in February this year, and at the time Safer Waitaki Coalition chairman Paul Olsen said the survey would identify ''areas of need'' in the district.

The survey results would be used to develop policy and make recommendations to the Waitaki District Council to meet the needs of the young people.

Safer Waitaki community safety and development facilitator Helen Algar said this week with 425 respondents to the survey, the coalition was ''thrilled'' with the response from youth - 300 would have provided a credible sample.

She said further work would be required to make sure the initiatives that could come forward as a result of the earlier ''Bridging the Gaps'' and youth forums - as well as the recent survey - were ''researched based''.

''We want to have some data so we do things in a considered way.''

Mr Kircher said, yesterday, it was important to continue ''pushing through as much economic development as we can get'' and creating as many job opportunities as possible.

''There are several things that bring people here; family is always important, but lifestyle and job opportunities are two of the big things that council can have an effect on,'' he said.



Survey results

The 2015 Safer Waitaki Youth Survey - 425 respondents aged 14-25

• 82% 14- to 25-year-olds felt safe in district.

• 64% 14- to 25-year-olds reported good or extremely good quality of life.

• 77% 18- to 21-year-olds reported lack of social activities.

• 71% 22- to 25-year-olds reported lack of opportunities for employment.

• 75% 22- to 25-year-olds reported lack of opportunities to advance a career.

Source: Safer Waitaki

Opinion on the street

1. Do you think there are enough job opportunities in Oamaru?

2. Do you think you'll be in Oamaru in five years?


Connor Ryan (17), of Oamaru.

1. Once you get looking, there are plenty [of jobs] around.

2. No, I'm getting out of here. Everyone's moving out, I guess, after school. I'm just seeing where I'll go.


Maddy Poole (18), of Oamaru.

1. It's kind of a small place, I think it's hard to think of a career in a small place. I've got a job though.

2. Possibly, it depends. If my friends leave, then I'll probably want to leave. They're all still in school now.


Lesina Fonua (14), of Oamaru.

1. I'm not sure, I don't really think about it as much.

2. I don't know, I think I might go to uni instead.


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