The Ashburton Youth Council needs a refresh, with Ashburton’s mayor wondering if too much was being asked of its young members.
While work is well under way to recruit more members to the youth council, the relevance of its current process has been questioned at the district council table, including Ashburton Mayor Neil Brown who said it “needs reinvigorating”.
He believes we need to question what “we really want them to do for us” as a good starting point.
The youth council only has five members and had to cancel its November meeting due to the unavailability of those members to reach a quorum.
Ashburton District councillors raised concerns about the direction of the youth council, but for now, the goal is to grow the membership so it continues to provide its valued role.
“We strongly believe the youth council is still relevant for the Ashburton District,” council group manager compliance and development, Jane Donaldson, said.
“The views of young people are typically under-represented in decision-making and the youth council provides one way we can engage better with this segment of our community.
“Many of the long-term decisions that the council makes now, will be paid for over the coming decades by the next generation of ratepayers, so it’s important that their voice is heard.”
Covid has disrupted the youth council over the past two years she said, putting regular meetings on hold and cancelling various events they had planned.
“Unfortunately, it’s been difficult to regain momentum this year as some members have moved on and others have had to focus on their studies.”
Travel requirements have also been identified as a barrier to participation, Donaldson said, with alternative options being looked at.
Donaldson said the recruitment drive in the new year will aim to get the membership up to around 12 to 15 members, covering the 14-24-year-old age range.
The youth council’s role is to provide a forum and engage young people in the district council’s decision-making processes and increase the council’s understanding of young people’s perspectives and needs, Donaldson said.
The youth council has a budget allocation of $13,613, which “is mostly used for hosting events, providing or improving facilities, and promoting awareness of youth issues”.
- Jonathan Leask