Waikato District mayor Allan Sanson and Minister for Children Anne Tolley cut a cake to launch the Oranga Rangatahi programme in Huntly.
A new prevention programme has been established in Huntly targeting youth at risk of offending. It was officially launched on Wednesday by Minister for Children Anne Tolley in front of invited guests from the community."
The Oranga Rangatahi programme aims to help children and young people at risk of offending to lead more positive successful lives," Tolley said. The programme is a collaborative approach between the Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki, Huntly College, Police, Ministry of Education and Waikato DHB to help children and young people who are identified as being at risk.
It will focus on reducing truancy, providing mentoring and cultural and vocational activities.The Ministry of Vulnerable Children reported 226 young people in the Waikato East area were involved in the Youth Justice Family Group Conference last year. "We know that a joined-up, comprehensive approach delivers better outcomes," Tolley said. Taking a lead role in assessing the needs and risks will be ministry social workers and support will be tailored accordingly. "Young people are encouraged to focus on improving their academic and work skills, self-control, problem solving and motivation. The programme will ensure young people's voices and best interests are front and centre."
There is also support and parenting tools for whānau to help change behaviours such as anger, violence and substance abuse."
Supported by two social workers, the team will run programmes at Huntly College and through the Waahi Whaanui Trust.
There are also activities to keep young people engaged during high risk periods such as weekends and holidays.Waikato Police Māori responsiveness manager Frank Grant sat alongside Tolley during the launch. The programme would fill a void in the efforts to guide youth on the right path, he said.
He said where the system had lacked before was not reaching out to family of youth."
Our primary role is about rehabilitating the child but it's critical we work with the whānau."
While Oranga Rangatahi gives that support, Grant said families also needed to come to the party with ideas on how to move forward through the process.
The programme wasn't going to be a quick-fix however, he said." It needs to be ongoing, it needs to be sustainable, it's imperative if you are going to do something, you follow through."
In attendance on the day was also Waikato District Mayor Allan Sanson who addressed the room of around 30 people. He believed the collaboration between organisations was an important aspect. "I think there's no secret here that we do have a problem with youth... I think it's a great initiative and probably one thing I'd have to say to take further ... is to work with the NGOs to make this a success."
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