Our Man In Auckland
The Waipuna Conference Centre in Mount Wellington Auckland hosted the 7th Biennial,and the 3rd Australia-New Zealand Adolescent Health and Development Conference, between the 20th and 22nd September 2004.
Father and Child Trust’s Teenage Dads Project support worker Kori Bragg was there, and filed this report…
I was fortunate enough to be invited to the “Involve ‘04” conference in Auckland this year, and I was unsure of what to expect especially after attending the Public Health Conference in Christchurch earlier this year.
After arriving at the conference centre I was overwhelmed by the amount of young people attending the conference and even more so when I realized that all these young people are working with youth.
The “Involve” conference is held every year, and every second year in Australia. The main theme for this years conference was making connections between youth, families and their communities and a strong focus on networking with various youth organisations to discuss issues and share ideas.
On the first day they had arranged a scavenger hunt which involved about 15 youth who went out for the day visiting GP’s, counsellors, and other various health professionals. They were then each given different role-playing scenarios regarding youth issues.
After this they approached these health professionals and were asked to rate them out of 10 (with ten being excellent) on how they felt about approaching them, and whether they were comfortable talking to them and how helpful they were. The results were mixed as these young people spoke about their experiences that day, some commented that they had found staff to be very helpful and easy to talk to and others said they were made to feel bad about their situation.
Those results alone show there is a long way to go in bridging the gap between youth and health providers. The input we were given from the young people themselves was priceless, and just as we had found in the teen dads survey, these young people had rated someone to talk to as paramount over everything else. If this wasn’t easily accessible, they felt reluctant to seek help for their situation.
There were so many workshops to chose from and many of them offered unique insights on how to engage youth with peer support workers and mentors.
This is very popular amongst the young people today, especially when the youth and support workers are closer in age, as they felt it made it easier for them to talk to and relate to. I facilitated an open space discussion on the Teen Dads Survey results, which sparked many questions and suggestions from the audience, where we even had a gentleman from Australia.
While many of the challenges are still large, people’s attitudes were very positive which was great for us, as the “Berlin wall” of negative attitudes and stereotypes is slowly but surely crumbling.
I received many positive comments regarding the Trust and the survey. Some of the groups attending the conference included the Youthline crew, Yellow Ribbon, Ministry of youth Development, and various other youth workers across the country.
I was most impressed with the energy and passion that many people projected in their work which was reflected by everyone attending the conference which made it a very enjoyable experience.