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Porirua report to help transform lives of young people

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Challenges remain in the wellbeing of children and young people in Porirua, but trends show positive changes too.

The 2019 Status Report, Trends in the wellbeing of children and young people in Porirua, provides a five-year snapshot of the health and wellbeing of youngsters in our city.

Porirua is the only council in New Zealand to measure the status of our young population in this way, said City Direction Chair ‘Ana Coffey.

“We are a young city and our tamariki and young people need to be at the heart of our decision-making,” she said after the report was signed off by Council’s City Direction Committee this morning.

Cr Coffey said while the report showed that there had been successes in some key areas, there were still plenty of challenges for Porirua’s young people.

“This year’s status report shows many of our rangatahi are doing well, while also highlighting some areas where their needs are not being met.

“I’m especially pleased to see some health improvements such as high rates of immunisation, and an increase in children being more active and using our parks and facilities.

“As a council we remain concerned about the poor rates of child oral health, high rates of children changing school twice or more each year, and higher levels of absences from school.

“Our Council will make contact with key government departments, provide them with copies of the status report and to discuss what they plan to do to address issues of concern.”

Coffey said that by isolating where improvements needed to be made in the lives of young people, the report helped the Council have meaningful conversations with partner agencies around what could be done to turn things around.

A cross-council working group had also been set up to examine the changes it could make to address some of the issues in the report, she said.  

“There are areas, in our role as a provider, where we might be able to do more, or do things differently”, said Coffey.

Examples of what the Council is already doing to promote physical activity include building a teen park in Aotea, supporting Bikes in Schools programme, develop cycling and walking trails throughout the city, and mountain bike trails on Rangituhi, Coffey said.

“To promote child oral health we’ve increased the number of drinking fountains across the city, provide healthier food and drink options at our city events and work with Regional Public Health to bring the Bee Healthy mobile dental van to the Arena every school holidays.”

Mayor Mike Tana said Council also has an advocacy role to play, particularly in working with central government ministers and agencies.

“The eastern Porirua development is an example of how we’re working with Housing New Zealand, Ministry of Education and Treasury to bring transformational change to a large part of our city.

“That will have an incredible impact on our children and young people who live there now and for generations to come.”

Acting Manager Policy and Corporate Planning Anne Kelly, said this was the third report which had sought to examine the current status of young people in Porirua.

“This report provides a more detailed assessment of the health and wellbeing of young people in Porirua, in contrast to the previous two reports which collated data over just a 12-month period, this report was produced using a five-year data set, where available. 

“This enables us to discern trends in wellbeing over time.”

Ms Kelly said the data was derived from Central Government sources and Council’s two yearly Quality of Life Survey and Annual Residents Satisfaction Survey.

“An ethnic breakdown is also provided to identify if there are disparities between different ethnic groups and whether these disparities are growing or narrowing.

“Comparative national level data is also provided.

“There is story behind each indicator and in areas of concern it may be necessary to dig deeper with the core agencies in these areas to improve the outcomes for the city’s children.”

Ms Kelly said the Council would be lobbying government ministers with the portfolios of education and health and the Capital & Coast District Health Board, as a first step to turning around the areas of concern.

“We are also looking at our own services and ways we might better respond to the needs of our children and young people.”

27 Jun 2019